When I see the name Tremors, I immediately look for two names: S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. These guys wrote the first movie together and were involved in all the sequels (including the TV series) up to and including Tremors 4. While the series’ quality gradually declined with each sequel, they still maintained enough of the fun and spirit to keep fans satisfied. Sadly, those two guys are nowhere to be found for this entry, a fact that may send a “tremor” up the spine of many a series fan.
Michael Gross returns as Burt Gummer (yay!), and I’m happy to say he’s just as energetic as ever. Joining him is a chubby and disheveled Jamie Kennedy, the latest goofy sidekick in a series not always remembered for how many goofy sidekicks it has. Whoever thought of pairing up these two actors must have been smoking some kind of worm-like object. And the exhausting “old guy vs. young guy” routine is just a way of, I don’t know, turning chubby and disheveled Jamie Kennedy into an action star? Anyhoo. The two of them are recruited by a government man to hunt an Assblaster in Africa. After some monetary negotiations, Burt and his new pal leave the desert landscapes of Nevada and head off to … the desert landscapes of Africa? Okey dokey.
From there it’s the same old song and dance, as Assblasters attack from above and Graboids from below. It’s been 11 years since the last movie came out, so I was expecting some kind of reinvention, but all we get is “just another Tremors movie”. It would have been nice if they had given us something fresh, rather than African versions of the same creatures that are “more evolved” than the ones in America. Seriously, these things are dormant for billions of years, then they just show up in America (1st movie), then a few years later in Mexico (2nd movie), then 20 years later in Africa (5th movie)? It sounds like they should be building up to some kind of major global event, but instead it’s “just another Tremors movie”.
Even without all those gripes, this newest entry just doesn’t FEEL like a new Tremors movie. The series’ brand of humor is gone, and the directing is so shallow that the scenes have no suspense and the characters zero depth. Even Burt, who at one point gets a man killed without so much as a shrug. It doesn’t help that they rehash scenes and steal direct quotes not just from the previous movies, but from a certain famous dinosaur movie. And despite the vast African landscape, this is the smallest entry in the entire franchise. Episodes of the show rival how confined this one feels. Not to mention it has more piss jokes per scene than monsters on the screen. (Seriously, is that all they know how to do?)
After 25 years, most franchises will have at least one sequel that stands out from the rest. The Tremors franchise has gone from Theatrical to DTV to TV to VOD, and the loyal fanbase has followed it to all those places. But that’s because Tremors is like pizza; even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good. Is, or I should say, was. Tremors 5 digs the series into “bad” territory for the first time ever, and the only thing drawing breath is its rock, Michael Gross, and maybe a little bit of nostalgia. If they had shaken things up, maybe they wouldn’t have sank so far. But to quote Tremors 1: “I found the ass end.”
2 out of 5