It’s been a while since we’ve seen Michael Gross as Burt Gummer. Burt hasn’t hunted massive subterranean predators since the early 2000’s, but he is finally, finally back to bring down the monstrous worms in this new installment of the Tremors franchise. Was it worth the wait? Well…
Tremors started out as a theatrical horror-comedy starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. It was about giant worm like creatures (eventually named Graboids) that were hunting the residents of a Nevada town. The rest of the installments were straight to video (and eventually DVD). The series did take a hit as far a quality, but Tremors 2, 3 and 4 are still decent tongue and cheek horror outings. While 2 had only Fred Ward and Michael Gross returning, but the rest of the series stars Burt. Period. There was also a decent short lived television series that repeatedly guest starred Christopher Lloyd.
Tremors 5 comes after over a decade long hiatus. The idea of Tremors 5 was kicked around for a while. It was going to take place in Australia (subtitle: The Thunder Down Under), but the final script settled on Africa. There were also rumblings of a theatrical reboot/remake, but that obviously never happened.
Tremors 5 starts out strong with an attack from an unfamiliar creature in Africa. The movie cuts to Burt Gummer in the Nevada desert starring in his own Survivorman-esque reality show. The animated short that shows the Graboid life cycle is fun. Soon after Burt shows us how to cook a snake, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy) shows up to be his new cameraman. Well, Burt gets convinced to go to Africa to hunt down this new creature.
Soon thereafter, we’re introduced to the African variation of Graboid. This Graboid is bigger and stronger than the North American version. Burt doesn’t have the firepower he needs… again. Travis annoys Burt. The creature we saw at the beginning is winged version of the Ass-Blaster. Some good times are had, but only a few.
The script and set up aren’t nearly as fun as the other movies. Nothing that happens in Tremors 3 or the series are referenced. Jamie Kennedy is not fun to watch. He is annoying Burt, but he’ll probably annoy you too. Tremors 3 was the first Fred Ward-less entry, but the new characters were at least interesting and pretty funny. Kennedy just isn’t and might even be trying too hard (or not hard enough). It might just be the script.
None of the new characters are remotely interesting. The main African characters are just sort of there, the ‘villian’ of the movie is again, just there and (spoiler alert) dies. There is a helicopter pilot who the script obviously wants us to like. He returns near the end and maybe the actor was just miscast, but you never really like him as much as the movie wants you to. Burt ends up being friends with him(though I’m not sure why he didn’t like him in the first place).
There is one funny part where Burt is trapped in a cage and loses his mind a bit. He talks ugly to a lion and is drug through the savanna. The rest of the comedy doesn’t really work. There are a few funny parts, but again, just falls short.
The effects in the movie are surprisingly good. Granted it is mostly CG, but the CG in straight to home media is normally unwatchable. Granted one of the shots with the Graboid jumping out of the ground and diving back into the ground is recycled with a new background. There is also one shot of the tentacles grabbing a man’s head that looks pretty shotty.
The design of the creatures are also to be commended. Both Graboid forms in the movie are more terrifying than the original design. Their new abilities actually surprised me, which is pretty difficult. The theme of each Tremors movie is that the hunters of the monsters are prepared for everything they’ve encountered so far, but then a new form pops up and they’re in over their heads. This continues in Tremors 5, but Burt is already as a disadvantage without a whimsical explanation. In Tremors 2, he killed all of the Shriekers and wasted all of his ammo doing so. In Tremors 3, he made is home Graboid and Shrieker proof, but not Ass-Blaster proof. In Tremors 5, he just doesn’t have his guns because… reasons.
Overall Tremors 5 is a bit of a disappointment. Every time a Tremors sequel got announced, most people thought is would be bad, but this is the first case where that expectation is true. Is it the worst thing ever? No. It has its moments and the creatures are cool to watch for the bit they’re in the movie. It has moments that are unbelievable even for this series. Michael Gross is great, but is given an inferior script and material. Fans of the series will enjoy some of it, but almost all of them will admit that this is the worst the series has to offer.