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Review: Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020)

After the shitfest that was Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, I said I was done with the franchise. Not that I could imagine them making another one for me to watch. Well, I was wrong. They made Tremors: Shrieker Island, and I had some time to kill, so I watched it. And while it’s slightly better than the last one, I don’t think they’ll be making another one.

This time around, a mega-rich big game hunter Bill (Richard Brake, Feedback, 31) has not only captured several Graboids and relocated them to his private island, he’s genetically modified them as well. And he’s bringing in a pack of folk willing to pay big bucks to add one to their trophy collection.

The island across the channel from it happens to be a wildlife refuge. And when the scientists there find out, they’re none too happy. The lead scientist Jas (Caroline Langrishe, Hammer House of Horror, Parting Shots) sends her second in command, Jimmy (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite, Ghost Team) to find the one man who can help, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross). And they’re going to need help because the genetically modified Graboids are changing into genetically modified Shriekers at an alarming rate. And the largest Graboid on record is here, and it’s about to go all Jaws: The Revenge on Burt.

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Now, you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Jamie Kennedy’s character, Travis. That’s for a good reason, he’s not in this one. However, they can’t let go of that storyline either. Jas is Travis’ mother. And Burt isn’t happy to see her.

That is also about as much character development as anyone in Tremors: Shrieker Island gets. Brake’s villain is a cartoonishly evil stereotype. His assistant Anna (Cassie Clare, What Happened to Monday) and the pack of hunters have even less backstory. The same for most of the conservationists. Only Jackie Cruz (Orange Is the New Black, Good Girls) who plays Freddie, a female MacGyver type, gets to stand out. And they still have her running around braless for eye candy almost as much as actually doing anything constructive.

Don Michael Paul returns as director for his third film in the franchise, and he co-wrote it with Brian Brightly (Man Camp). Paul’s first credit as a writer was the Mickey Rourke/Don Johnson cult film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. But from there he’s gone to writing and/or directing films like Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the 4th Reich and Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy.

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Tremors: Shrieker Island doesn’t have anything as awful as the sand dunes passed off as snowdrifts from the last film, but it doesn’t have anything really good going on either, except for some non-CGI explosions. Well, you might find the scene from Jurassic Park where the lawyer hides in the Porta Potty getting replayed with an overflowing outhouse funny. If so, there’s something.

The creature attacks are filmed with so little energy or suspense that they have no excitement to them. It doesn’t help that the Shriekers look funny rather than menacing when we finally get to see them. And since the CGI for a small herd of them is expensive, we don’t get to see much of them. Just like we hear about the hundreds of natives who live on the island, but never see any of them. Extras cost money.

Another cheap cash-in, Tremors: Shrieker Island simply goes through the monster movie motions we expect from this franchise. A bunch of people we don’t give a fuck about getting eaten. And a bunch of people we don’t give a fuck about live. The best I can say is it isn’t actually awful and might be acceptable as background noise.

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The one surprise is the ending. Since I know many of you will watch it regardless of the reviews, I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say it definitely wasn’t something I would have expected.

Universal 1440 Entertainment will release Tremors: Shrieker Island on Digital, Blu-ray, DVD, and On-Demand on October 20th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more info.

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