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Directed by Don Michael
Written by John Whelpley
Starring Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy, Ernest Ndhlovu, Lawrence Joffe, Zak Hendrikz, Natalie Becker, Emmanuel Castis, Brandon Auret, Daniel Janks, Jarrod Pinto, Rea Rangaka, Ian Roberts, Sello Sebotsane, Pearl Thusi
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I think I might have missed an installment or three of the TREMORS franchise. The first is a modern classic, with an amazing cast and an imaginative monster. I seem to remember watching the sequel and being introduced to the little walking monsters, but very little else rings a bell. While TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES has a bit of the fun of the first one, it definitely doesn’t have the cast or the story to back it up.

FAMILY TIES’ Michael Gross seems to be the only cast member from the original ensemble who is dedicated enough to the franchise to continue appearing in these films. Gross’ Burt Gummer is a survivalist, attempting to make a buck by filming a cable survival show and highlighting his experience battling the Graboids (giant sand worms that burrow through the earth and eat you with their tentacle tongues). When his cameraman gets another assignment, Burt is introduced to Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), an extreme sportsman who has an interest in Burt’s exploits. While Burt immediately takes a disliking to Travis, the two are given an offer to track down a Graboid that is attacking locals in a small African village. Attesting that Graboids do not exist outside of the American Southwest, Burt reluctantly goes to find the mother of all Graboids attempting to reproduce in Africa and secure itself at the top of the food chain.

I have to admit, it’s fun to see the sand worms bursting through the ground and chomping down on people and animals. The flying Assblasters, which fart flames that propel them through the air, and the Shriekers, which walk around on two legs and screech at their targets while chasing them, are along for the ride as well, though this being Africa all three species of creature are bigger and meaner than ever. Sure the effects aren’t as fantastic as the mostly practical original, but the CG worms here are better than the usual SyFy fare. The final battle with the worms is pretty intense and really well rendered, so as far as the monsters are concerned, this is a winner.

Now, the in between parts between Gross and Kennedy…not so much. Gross is fully committed as Burt Gummer and really is the best thing (besides the Graboids themselves) about this film, as he has played this character for four movies now and is pretty comfortable with the character. The addition of Jamie Kennedy, though, is just kind of lame. I understand a new cast member, most likely that will be committed to churn out a few of these films, is necessary, but the story connecting Burt and Travis is hokey and sitcom-y. The conflict between the two characters is forced, as is its resolution. Any time the two are arguing on screen, I just wanted a Graboid to pop up and chew them both up.

Still it’s impressive that the TREMORS series has made it to five and the fun that was teeming in the first film is still there in parts of this installment. Gross is great here as Gummer, and that level of conviction should be applauded. Kennedy’s lines and deliveries, though, are just painfully bad and really don’t add much to the film besides groans. If you’re a fan of this series, I’m sure this film is something you’re going to want to see. But having seen the first two installments, I know there are at least two films in this series better than this one.

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