Well here we are. Six movies into the Tremors series. If you’ve made it this far, I can’t imagine why you’d stop now. If you quit after part one, I can’t imagine why you’d start. Clearly, this’ll be a review for the masses.
These Tremors sequels didn’t start off that bad. The second was a fun addition to the original story, while the third did a lot of great things with our nostalgia for the series. Both introduced new Graboid elements and gave us more time to know our beloved main character, gun nut and possible Trump voter Burt Gummer.
Then things hit a rough patch, starting with an unsatisfying prequel followed by a new direction via the addition of Jamie Kennedy as Burt’s long lost son, Travis. Now both are back in a sixth adventure, one that does little to make you feel better about watching a sixth damn Tremors film.
Scientists way up in cold, remote Canada are having a Graboid problem, so of course they call Burt, renowned Graboid killer, to help out. Apparently, global warming has thawed a few Graboids that predate the ones we know. On top of that, government spooks are sneaking around trying to turn them into weapons. On top of THAT, Burt has some kind of Graboid illness that will kill him if his crew of rustic dweebs can’t capture one alive.
That’s a tall order for one Tremors movie. This one manages by basically throwing out the Graboids-as-weapons concept in favor of Burt’s illness and basically remaking the first film. Once things get going, everyone is stranded in a landlocked area they won’t escape unless they figure out a way to kill the three Graboids hunting them. The film does feature an ass-blaster, but just for a moment.
So we’re left with character interactions, which makes sense. Even in the first film, the Graboids themselves weren’t that cool, and this has been the Burt Gummer show for a long time now. He’s as bossy and paranoid as ever, but it’s also getting to the point where his supposed expertise is harder to believe. He’s basically just a funny guy with guns.
Most of Gummer’s scenes are opposite Jamie Kennedy, who is no less gross this time around. All these movies have sort of a slide-guitar dusty vibe to their characters, but Kennedy seems too old to play this kind of roguish comedy relief guy, and shoving him into that archetype leads to unsettling results. There’s a sense that no one in the Tremors universe is supposed to be “cool” but you’re also supposed to root for them a little. Kennedy’s like a carnival worker you warn your friends about. A lady has to kiss him at the end.
We’re supposedly getting a Tremors TV show with Kevin Bacon reprising his role as Valentine McGee, which might give this series the shot in the arm it needs, even if that means throwing everything poor Michael Gross has done under the bus in the process. In a strange effort to head that off at the pass, A Cold Day in Hell introduces Valerie McKee, Val’s daughter. Unfortunately, it’s a lost opportunity as her Graboid enthusiast character doesn’t add much to the ensemble and certainly doesn’t recall any of Valentine’s charm.
And that’s the biggest problem here. The series is officially out of charm, even charm we will it out of love for the original. There’s really nothing left to do with Burt or the Graboids, and at this point it’s impossible to watch without wondering why we’re all still here, blowing up big worms again.