Critters Attack! is gory, bloody, and nicely captures the look of the Krites from the original series. That, sadly, is about all it has going for it, as it commits the biggest sin any movie can. It’s boring. So, so, so boring.
The main character is Drea (played by Tashiana Washington, though in the movie it always sounds like they’re pronouncing it as Trea) who works as a delivery driver for a local sushi joint and dreams of going to college. Her brother is Philip (Jaeden Noel), who is obsessed with aliens. Well, on this particular night he gets his wish when the Critters/Krites land nearby and do what they do best – eating people. While this is going on, Drea takes a babysitting job at the college and when out with the kids, Trissy (Ava Preston) and Jake (Jack Fulton), they come across one of the Krites, a white female one they name Bianca. What follows is a game of cat and mouse with the group constantly trying to elude the rampaging alien horde who seem to have a preternatural ability to know where they’re going and beat them to it.
The promotional materials for this film make a big thing of the fact that Dee Wallace (E.T, Cujo, The Howling) is in it. Dee played the character of Helen Brown in the first film and has, for some reason, been renamed in this one to Aunt Dee. Seems they couldn’t even be bothered to give her a proper name and while, yes, it is interesting to get an actor of her calibre back into the series, she was only in the very first film and so it is hard to see why they hype this up so much. Now if they’d got back Don Opper, for instance, who played the character of Charlie in every single Critters film till this one, THAT would have been impressive. She’s also rather wasted in this, with barely any interaction with the main cast till the very end of the film, and she only has a handful of lines.
Speaking of the acting, it is almost uniformly dreadful. Flat, uninspired, dull, with characters only truly reacting to things on a handful of occasions. They seem almost unimpressed by the invasion of fluffy little bloodthirsty aliens, treating it in the same way you might an annoying group of wasps that have invaded your picnic. This makes sense upon the realisation that the main cast are wearing the thickest plot armour ever. While other characters die in seconds to lone Krites, the main cast are able to hold off literally dozens of them with barely a scratch. While the Krites attack other characters almost instantly, they seem content to sit and stare at the main cast, giving them ample time to run away or defend themselves. Realising that the main cast are effectively invulnerable removes any sense of threat and reduces the film to an extended gorefest of Krites getting stomped on.
Now that, in itself, is not a terrible thing, and praise must be heaped on the excellent puppeteering work on display here; the Krites are masterworks of practical effects, but that simply is not enough to save this film from being interminably dull and flat, with an abrupt ending that offers no real resolution or denoument, just an abrupt crash cut to credits that will likely leave an audience going “Wait, is that it?”.
Add to this problems with the behaviour and abilities of the Krites themselves compared to the previous films, the terrible decisions characters make and their near-laughable response to their situation and Critters Attack! is just a massive disappointment and that is truly a shame when you look at the special features.
On the Blu-ray disc are four featurettes running around seven minutes in length on average: Engineering Gore: Designing Critters; Critters: An Out of this World Experience; The Critter Ball; and
A Scene Specific Audio Commentary with Bobby Miller and Marty Krite. On watching, the cast and crew seem to have a genuine passion for what they are doing and for the source material, so it is truly saddening when all this passion got lost somewhere along the way, lost beneath a lacklustre script and wooden, emotionless acting.
Critters Attack! is the first time audiences have seen the furry, toothy Krites on screen since 1992 (excluding the Shudder exclusive Critters: A New Binge series) but it is definitely not one that any fan of the series should be in a hurry to own.