Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon) is a man who’s been accused of killing his first wife. Despite being acquitted, it has made him somewhat infamous and left him mentally scarred. He’s trying to live a new life with his new, young, actress wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and their adorable daughter Ella (Avery Essex). WIth Susanna doing a play in London, the family rents a secluded house in Wales. Unfortunately, there is something very strange going on in that house and Theo’s past comes back to haunt him, as does the house’s shadowy occupant.
Supernatural thriller is written and directed by David Koepp, but despite a nice try to concoct something a little different and spooky, the flick seems cold and distant. Maybe it’s because we never really like or feel sorry for Theo, as he seems to be a bit of a jerk at times and we know from the start there is something about his tragic past he is not telling his new wife, or us. It’s all very predictable and ends exactly as we expect, even up to and including the identity of the house’s specter-like occupant. There are a few spooky moments, but they are few and far between and the excuse to get Susanna out of the house for the last act, just succeeds in making her unlikable as well. As for the couple’s marriage, the fact that Theo is so weird from the start and so much older than Susanna, not to mention his past, leaves their whole relationship, very unconvincing. It might have worked If there was some nice chemistry between the actors, but Bacon and Seyfried never click as a couple onscreen, either. At least young Avery Essex shines as Ella, who is basically the only truly likable person in the movie. Kinda of “meh” when all is said and done. Most entertaining thing about the film, is that it takes place in Wales yet was actually filmed entirely in New Jersey.
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Flick takes place in the small desert town of Perfection, Neveda where local handymen Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are contemplating leaving for bigger and better things. What they get is bigger, but certainly not better, as the remote town becomes surrounded by a pack of enormous, hungry, subterranean worm-like creatures, that the besieged locals dub “Graboids.” As they get pulled under and devoured one by one, prospects for escape dwindle as fast as Perfection’s citizenship.
Delightfully entertaining flick is directed by Ron Underwood (City Slickers) from a script and story by he, Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson. It’s light-hearted and fun, but smartly plays it just serious enough, to give the Graboids some serious threat. This way, their attacks are intense and suspenseful and we fear for this likable bunch of stranded characters. There is very little bloodshed, but there is enough death and carnage, so we take these monsters very seriously. Mixing horror and comedy isn’t always easy, but Tremors mixes the intensity and scares with the jokes and humor in just the right increments. It’s a blast of fun and the budget is large enough that the effects portraying the creatures and their activity are very realistic and it helps suspend our disbelief as to such beasts’ existence. The origin of the creatures is kept mostly ambiguous and here it works, as does letting us know exactly how many there are and thus need to be dealt with. There are hints of intelligence, too, though we never know just how smart they are, until it’s too late. The California locations are utilized perfectly to portray the fictional Nevada town and the film is fast paced with only small lulls between the action. The score by Ernest Troost adds to the suspense and the cast is as close to perfect as you can get for a big budget B-movie like this…and at heart, a B-movie this certainly is.
As for that cast…Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward have great chemistry as buds and business partners Val and Earl. They work really well together and their bickering only adds to the fun. Some very well written dialog between them, makes these two memorable and reluctantly heroic characters. Too bad they were never brought back together again in any of the sequels. Finn Carter makes for a cute and spunky heroine as geology grad student Rhonda LeBeck, who catches Valentine’s eye. She provides what little scientific exposition we get and proves she can hold her own with the boys. Reba McEntire and Michael Gross are absolutely hilarious as heavily armed survivalists, Heather and Burt Gummer. Another pair that work really well together here. Victor Wong (Egg Shen from Big Trouble in Little China) is also fun as cantankerous and opportunistic general store owner, Walter Chang and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’s Bibi Besch has a small role as an ill-fated local. A great cast who all get the material perfectly!
This is a really fun and action packed movie that combines the thrills, chills and humor in exactly the right doses. It has a great cast, really cool and well rendered monsters and comes in at a perfectly economical 96 minutes. Tremors was not a big box office hit, but was successful enough on home video to spawn five more direct to video sequels, with a sixth sequel on the way. They all star Michael Gross, the only actor to appear in all the franchise installments, so far.
PERSONAL TRIVIA: A friend and I saw Tremors at a preview screening before it opened. We didn’t know what we were seeing, save that it was a science fiction movie with Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon. We had a blast with it and gave the film high marks when asked to fill out questionnaires at the end of the movie. Nothing got changed when the film was released, so it must have tested well. Not sure why it wasn’t a bigger box office hit, as it had all the ingredients of a great popcorn movie!
Not sure what is the worst thing about this cliché and incredibly routine flick, the fact that it blatantly lifts scenes and plot elements from Poltergeist and the Paranormal Activity series, or that this boring and unimaginative waste of time is from Greg McLean who made the intense and disturbing Wolf Creek.
C0-written, with S.P. Krause and Shayne Armstrong and directed by Greg McLean, film has the Taylor family (Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell) taking their daughter Stephanie (Lucy Fry) and autistic son Michael (David Mazouz) to the desert for a camping excursion. Michael strays away, finding a hidden cave and removing some ancient Native American ceremonial stones. An angry spirit comes home with him, as does every overused haunted house cliché McLean and company could think of. Boring, horribly derivative and yet took three writers to come up with. The most disturbing thing about it is the use of an autistic boy as a victimized plot device. Still can’t believe this is the same guy that gave us the nail-biting Wolf Creekand the nerve wracking giant alligator flick Rogue.
HARDCORE HENRY (2015)
Absolutely awful waste of time is a headache inducing tale of a man named Henry (played by various cameras) who is killed and resurrected as a cybernetic killing machine. The film is told completely from his POV as he rebels against his creators and tries to rescue his wife (Kristy’s Haley Bennet), who is a scientist that works for his makers. Helping him is rouge scientist (Sharlto Copley) who also bares a grudge against the megalomaniacal Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), who is behind all this.
As written and directed by Ilya Naishuller, this annoying and grating mess is a pathetic attempt to appeal to the gamer generation brought up on violent and gory POV video games. Based on the dismal box office, they failed. Complete garbage and an utter waste of 90 minutes spent doing almost anything else. Haley Bennet was so good in Kristy, and I hope being in this junk isn’t a mistake for an actress that shows a lot of promise. Best for her career this film is forgotten as soon as possible. I’d like to forget it, I know that.