It’s been thirty years since the earth shook in the remote desert Southwest, since giant worms hunted by sensing human footsteps, since gun nut survivalists proved to be a town’s salvation.
“Tremors” inspired half a dozen sequels and even a TV series at one point. But here’s another, “Tremors: Shrieker Island,” because giant “graboid” worms and Michael Gross have to eat.
Unheralded sequel specialist (“Jarhead: Law of Return,” “Death Race 4,” “Bulletproof 2,” and on and on) Don Michael Paul helms this desultory special effects slaughter, with “genetically altered” graboids picking up a collection of “slackjacked hipster hunters from Silicon Valley,” and only that Burt Gummer “legend” (Gross) standing between them and annihilation.
With those odds, I must say, I don’t like our chances.
Caroline Langrishe and Jon Heder play scientists who lose a local worker on their research team to something that cannot exist, but does. So they ask the biologist/extreme-hunting-experience entrepreneur (Richard Brake) running an Ultimate Hunt on an adjacent island off Thailand, what he’s up to?
“Imported” graboids, genetically altered. They shriek. Damn. Just call this “Shrieker Island.” The movie writes itself. Or it should have. Genetically alter that.
There’s mistrust and money involved, so the science team may be fighting not just fast-breeding shrieking monsters, but the hunting party. It’s a good thing Dr. Welker (Langrishe) has sent Jimmy (Heder) to find her ex, a guy who’s “not just a legend, he’s a super hero in some circles.”
“Destiny’s a bitch,” the old hermit Gummer mutters. Indeed.
The script is a collection of catch-phrases and one-liners masquerading as character detail.
“I don’t get women. Too many moving parts.”
“They reproduce asexually? That’s no fun.”
The effects? Competently-rendered digital monsters and big explosions, and littler ones — small charges meant to show the worms blowing up the ground they race under.
Cassie Clare plays a badass archer/hunting guide who slings insults along with her arrows. Heder hangs on to his “gee whiz” “Napoleon Dynamite” image — at least in his profanity-free speech.
And Gross chews through the scenery the way a graboid plows through volcanic island topsoil.
If you want a scary, tense and hilarious movie about giant worms eating desert California, rent the original “Tremors,” directed by Ron Underwood, starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire. No “Shrieker” necessary.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for creature violence, language throughout, some gore and suggestive/drug references
Cast: Michael Gross, Cassie Clare, Jon Heder, Caroline Langrishe, Richard Brake, Jackie Cruz.
Credits: Directed by Don Michael Paul, script by Brian Brightly, Don Michael Paul. A Universal 1440 release on Netflix.
Running time: 1:42