A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tremors: Shrieker Island is the seventh sci-fi/action/monster movie in the Tremors franchise, which are all about brave people battling gigantic, human-eating worms. Longtime fans may enjoy it, but otherwise it's pretty tired and clunky. Expect lots of monster-related violence and fake-looking blood and gore. Humans are largely killed offscreen, but some blood spatter is shown. Creature gore is much stronger. Many weapons are shown and fired, including high-powered rifles, other guns, a bow and arrow, flamethrowers, dynamite, etc. Key character(s) die. Language includes uses of "s--t," "bitch," and more. Secondary characters are said to be drunk, and a main character wakes up with a hangover. Characters share whiskey, and magic mushrooms are mentioned. Female characters wear revealing clothing, and a "strip" drinking game is mentioned.
What's the story?
In TREMORS: SHRIEKER ISLAND, a group of professional hunters led by the maniacal Bill (Richard Brake) offers wealthy tourists the chance to hunt genetically modified "Graboids" -- gigantic, underground-dwelling, human-eating worms. On a nearby nature preserve, scientists Jas (Caroline Langrishe) and Jimmy (Jon Heder) find evidence that something is up and investigate. There, they discover that one of the Graboids has spawned several deadly "Shriekers," which reproduce rapidly. Jas puts out a call to the legendary Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), who's battled these monsters for 30 years. Joined by weapons expert Freddie (Jackie Cruz) and archer Anna (Cassie Clare), Burt and Jimmy go to war against the beasts. But first they must contend with Bill.
Is it any good?
This seventh movie in the Tremors series is interesting mainly due to Burt and a few other likable characters, but it's cheap and not particularly inventive, with little new to say. Gross (who's also known for Family Ties) was a supporting character in the fun original Tremors (1990); his character, Burt, has gone on to appear in every other Tremors movie (with the exception of the fourth, a prequel, in which he played Burt's great-grandfather) -- and even the 2003 TV series. That's a long history, and he carries it proudly, even if he doesn't really have anything to do in Tremors: Shrieker Island that he hasn't done before.
Heder plays yet another lovable goofball, charging into the fray despite his perceived cowardice/weaknesses, and Cruz (Orange Is the New Black) plays the kind of tough, powerful woman you'd want on your side. But director Don Michael Paul movie feels rushed and ill-timed; it goes on too long and yet feels choppy and truncated. Two characters of color are left stranded with virtually no dialogue, with their jobs being simply to obey any orders barked at them. And the digital monster effects feel plasticky and dislocated, leaving very few actual scares. But if the main job of Tremors: Shrieker Island is to cement the legacy of Burt Gummer, then it does that job just fine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tremors: Shrieker Island's violence. Did the monster-related blood and gore shock/scare you? Why or why not?
How would you describe the movie's representations? Do characters of color have any power? Do women have agency? Why is diverse representation important in the media?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of movies about giant monsters?
Do you consider Burt a hero or a role model? What are his strengths and flaws?
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2020
- Cast: Jon Heder, Michael Gross, Jackie Cruz
- Director: Don Michael Paul
- Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: creature violence, language throughout, some gore and suggestive/drug references
- Last updated: November 5, 2020
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