Tremors 5: Bloodlines

Dir: Don Michael Paul
Star: Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy, Pearl Thusi, Lawrence Joffe

11 years after the last installment, and 25 after the glorious (and still wonderful) original, the giant worms are back - I guess Gross must have needed a new car or something, since I don't recall ever seeing him in anything outaidw the series. As in most of the later sequels, he's about the only connection to that first film. He's still playing survivalist Burt Gummer, and after the Wild West prequel which was #4, we're back in the present day, with Gummer hosting his own web series out of Perfection, Nevada. He's approached by hot-shot young film-maker Travis Welker (Kennedy), who gains Gummer's trust by helping him negotiate a deal to go to South Africa, where the graboids, shriekers and ass-blasters have reportedly been seen, for the first time outside the Northern hemisphere. Turns out their employer is not seeking to address the problem caused by the creatures, so much as exploit it, by selling the monsters' eggs on the black market. Stopping them will also involve taking down the "Queen Bitch" of the species, in what is basically a thinly-veiled Aliens reference.

Sigh. As with the previous three sequels, this one's purpose appears mostly to generate a desire to watch the first film again, which got the combination right of monsters, characters, action and humour. Here, there's little in the way of development of either humans or animals; the tentacles of the African graboid can separate and operate independently, but with the life-cycle fully established, there's nowhere else to go [the paucity of invention here explains why they opted to go back in time for the fourth movie]. Kennedy certainly doesn't have the charm or charisma of... Well, let's be honest, the giants worms probably do better in both departments. The foreshadowing here is pretty painful - as soon as you see a small African child using a car battery to bring up worms, and someone mentions the storms which appear, regular as clockwork, in the afternoon, you'll be able to piece together the climax. There are occasional moments of some wit; I actually liked Gummer's monster-hunting show, and would have liked to see more of it. Yet it doesn't change the underlying problem, that this has been flogging a dead invertebrate for far too long.

[October 2015]

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