Critters Attack!


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Critters Attack
"A cheery little romp with the right balance of cuteness, comedy and gore." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

Remember when the likes of George Lucas started enthusing about modern CGI and the wonderful ways in which it can make effects more realistic, imaginary beings more lifelike and clunky old Eighties science fiction movies more believable?

Thankfully, Critters Attack! is having none of that nonsense.

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They first came to our screens in 1986 and now they're back, big rubbery faces and all, bringing their ravenous appetites, gleeful laughter and pulsing synthesiser soundtrack with them. Once again these fearsome alien furballs have found a small, isolated town to attack - but once again they've run up against meddling kids. They also have to contend with 'good' critter Bianca, who coos like a mogwai but fights like one who's been pushed too far, and with Dee Wallace, star of the first film, now back as ageing cat lady and gun-toting defender of the Earth Aunt Dee, who doesn't seem too worried about maintaining good interplanetary relations.

There's nothing stunningly original here but there doesn't need to be. the point is to have fun and in an age when low budget monster movies are a dime a dozen, Critters Attack! still manages to acquit itself well. it does this by resisting the temptation to up the ante on everything, instead sticking to a small scale, character-based story and - taking a cue from its creatures - just rolling with it.

Tashiana Washington is Drea, a teenager who hasn't had much luck in life and hopes that by babysitting for a lecturer at her local college she'll increase her chances of getting admitted there. Her younger brother Philip (Jaeden Noel) tags along because he has a crush on the older of the two kids, Trissy (Ava Preston); the younger Jake (played with splendid sullenness by Jack Fulton) is going through a phase of only communicating by text, but of course it's not long before all the phones are out. Meanwhile, Drea is being pursued by a security guard with a love of bagpipes (not many 21st Century films manage Lair Of The White Worm references), Drea is developing a crush on a student and he's dating her former best friend. Life would be complicated enough without having to deal with an alien invasion.

Showing a the 2019 Fantasia international Film Festival, this is a natural crowd pleaser, a film that will always be at its most fun when watched with a big group of fans. There are some nice touches, such as a gender-reversed standard shower scene and a revenge subplot featuring Drea's sushi restaurant boss ("We have the best knives in the business") that bring it up to date without compromising on traditional fun, but it also knows when to go back to basics.

Parts of it could have been better written. It gets tedious listening to the kids beg over and over again for others to believe them when they have an alien in a backpack they could just show to them, and in places the action seems unnecessarily padded. Overall, though, this is a cheery little romp with the right balance of cuteness, comedy and gore. Fans will snap it up.

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2019
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Critters Attack! packshot
A babysitter takes her young charges on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.

Director: Bobby Miller

Writer: Scott Lobdell, Domonic Muir

Starring: Tashiana Washington, Dee Wallace, Jaeden Noel, Jack Fulton, Ava Preston

Year: 2019

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: US

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