BARE BONES: CRITTERS ATTACK! (2019)

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CRITTERS ATTACK! (2019)

Revival of the classic franchise is sadly disappointing as the Krites…or Critters…return to earth after last being seen here in 1991’s Critters 3. They land near a small town, much like in the first two features and start to chow-down on the inhabitants. They cause trouble most specifically for a babysitter (Tashiana Washington), her two charges (Jack Fulton and Ava Preston) and her younger brother (Jaeden Noel), who find a friendly Krite female while hiking. Luckily Dee Wallace shows up (reprising her role from the first flick…maybe?) and goes Critter hunting!

Sequel is directed very by-the-numbers by Bobby Miller from a witless and dull script by Scott Lobdell. It’s so low budget, it looks like someone’s homemade fan film and the acting is strictly amateur, save for the veteran Wallace. Aside from the female Krite our teens adopt as a pet, there is little new or innovative here and not much reason to revisit this franchise. There is some decent gore…when they bother to show it, and the Critters are delightfully still rubber puppets, but there is little fun in their new exploits. At least there is a cool 80s-ish soundtrack from Russ Howard III.

A sadly underwhelming direct-to-digital sequel that begs one to revisit the originals instead…at least the first two anyway. While on the subject, there is also Shudder’s Critters: A New Binge web series, which is supposedly not much better.

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: PAY THE GHOST and WHISPER

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PAY THE GHOST (2015)

Supernatural thriller takes place in NYC on Halloween with busy dad Mike Lawford (Nicholas Cage) taking his young son Charlie (Jack Fulton) to a local carnival, after getting home too late to take him trick or treating. Charlie mysteriously disappears without a trace while standing right next to Mike and thus begins a year long quest to find out what happened to his son. Mike and his wife Kristen’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) search leads them to believe there is something supernatural involved, that links back to a Celtic legend that started hundreds of years before. As Halloween again approaches, is there any hope of finding Charlie alive?

While Pay The Ghost is actually well directed by Uli Edel and the performances from the cast are also pretty good, the flick is ultimately very routine as these thrillers go and Dan Kay’s script comes to a very hokey conclusion that wraps everything up in a nice little bow. There are some legitimately spooky bits here and there, but they can’t overcome the same tired old plot elements from most recent missing child and haunting flicks and the same old CGI phantoms. Using Celtic lore could have made this interesting, but it is carried out in a very bland and standard manner that could have used any cultural background without making a difference. An OK thriller if there is nothing else to watch and at least Nicholas Cage dialed it back a bit. Also features Stephen McHattie.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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WHISPER (2007)

Ho-hum supernatural thriller finds couple Max (Josh Holloway) and Roxanne (Sarah Wayne Callies) participating in a kidnapping of eight year-old David (Blake Woodruff) after being turned down for financing on their dream project of opening a diner…makes sense! The boy turns out to be quite the little demon…literally…and soon Max, Roxanne and their partners (Joel Edgerton and Michael Rooker) find the tables turned on them, as the little monster uses his unnatural powers to off them one by one.

Written by Christopher Borrelli and directed by Stewart Hendler, this is a by-the-numbers ‘bad seed’ movie that is fairly predictable and it’s reveals are really no surprise. There is little suspense, though it is directed competently and the cast are…aside from vet Rooker…destined for better things and do perform well here. Young Woodruff is fairly creepy in the role of David, too and the cinematography is by the legendary Dean Cundey, so the movie looks great. Nothing really to recommend, though there is much worse you could watch and fans of certain cast members, like Callies and Edgerton, may want to see one of their earlier roles.

2 and 1-2 star rating

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-MonsterZero NJ
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