No film franchise should ever make it to its fifth installment. A prime example: Disney is currently dead-set on making a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie when we all know that stretching Johnny Depp’s eyeliner-smudged antics out into an entire trilogy was already teetering on the edge of way too much. I can understand the desire to turn one film into a trilogy, a la Peter Jackson. Trilogies tend to form a natural story arc, from (satisfying) beginning to (usually kind of boring) middle to (hopefully satisfying) end. However, once you venture beyond three, you are venturing into worlds best left unexplored. Yet I suppose one cannot expect storytelling restraint for the sake of avoiding creative burnout when it comes to the Tremors franchise. The original 1990 film starring Kevin Bacon, Reba McIntyre and Michael Gross is fondly remembered by many for its bizarre genre mash-up of comedy with good old-fashioned creature feature horror. The straight-to-video sequels now number four, and while Tremors 5: Bloodlines has its moments of cheeky fun, it mostly misses the already very low bar it has set for itself.
Burt Gummer (Gross), the gruff survivalist who recurs through the franchise, is running around shooting a very low budget reality show in the Nevada desert when he is approached by Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), a cameraman who wants to help Gummer expand his brand. Gummer, who is surprisingly easy to track down for a loner who hides out in the middle of the desert, is then approached by a representative from the South African Wildlife Ministry who needs Gummer’s help fighting off the infamous Ass-Blaster monsters. Gummer and Welker head to Africa, where everyone appears to only speak in jokes designed to remind people that the film is set in Africa: “Everything is bigger in Africa!” You can’t kill me, I’m African!” “It is a tradition in Africa for me to ask you to do this humiliating thing that clearly isn’t actually a tradition so that I can make fun of you, silly American!” (Not actually a direct quote, but you get the gist.) Once Gummer gets over the trauma of having most of his beloved guns confiscated at the South African border, he sets out on a quest to find and kill as many Ass-Blasters and Graboids as possible--though, for some reason, the South African Wildlife Ministry rep seems awfully keen on capturing these dangerous creatures alive, which Gummer knows is a very, very bad idea.
For a PG-13 movie, the creature effects in Tremors 5: Bloodlines are disgusting, gory and awesome. At one point towards the end of the film, an exploding monster splatters gore all over a crowd of onlookers, who immediately start dancing with glee that the monster is dead despite being covered with viscera. Whenever the main characters are fighting monsters, which is fortunately for a large chunk of the film, it is legitimately very entertaining. The problem with Tremors 5: Bloodlines is that for a film that strives to combine comedy with horror, it just isn’t that funny. The script (which counts John Whelpley, also responsible for Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, among its writers) tries very, very hard to be crass and hilarious, but it’s mostly just crass. Gross is clearly an old pro at wringing humor out of this kind of material, but the rest of the cast is far less capable. If Tremors 5: Bloodlines had taken itself too seriously, rather than proclaiming loudly for all to hear that it was not serious at all, it might have actually been a funnier movie.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The Blu-ray, DVD and digital HD combination pack of Tremors 5: Bloodlines includes behind the scenes footage, outtakes, and deleted and extended scenes.
"Tremors 5: Bloodlines" is on sale October 6, 2015 and is rated PG13. Comedy, Horror. Directed by Don Michael Paul. Written by M.A. Deuce, C.J. Strebor, Woodrow Truesmith, John Whelpley. Starring Jamie Kennedy, Michael Gross.