When a movie franchise switches from cinema release to straight-to-video, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Okay, that’s usually because they sucked before and sucked afterwards equally, but a smart franchise will use previously existing sets and a bit of chutzpah to cover up the drop in budget. Sadly, “Critters” appears to not be a smart franchise, and they’ve relocated from the small Kansas town that homed the first two, and had all sorts of interesting visuals, to a single apartment building in an unnamed city, which, er, doesn’t. It would seem that Ug, aka Terrence Mann, got a slightly better paying offer in the meantime, as he only appears as 10 seconds of hologram at the end; and even odder, Don Opper, as drunk-turned-interstellar-bounty-hunter-turned-Sheriff-turned-weirdo-who-lives-in-a-hole Charlie, misses the entire first hour of the movie. He can’t have been too busy, surely?
But none of you care about that! The one and only reason anyone in 2015 would give a hoot about “Critters 3” is a very early appearance from future superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, as the barely post-pubescent stepson of the evil landlord of the apartment building. He gives zero indication of being about to move into superstardom, but he’s fine I suppose.
Let’s discuss coincidences. Our heroic family (widowed father, spunky teenage girl, goofy younger boy) are on a camping trip in an RV. While suffering a blown tire, they pull up at a car park in the vicinity of Grover’s Bend, and not only meet Charlie…we’re not even going to get into the zero explanation given for him being the Sheriff at the end of part 2, but by the beginning of part 3 is back to being a goofy-dressed oddball who hides in a hole in the ground looking for critters…but also meet the guy who turns out to be the evil landlord of their building. In a city which is nowhere near where they are right at that moment. It could have been handled in a million more sensible ways – for example, why not have the kids meet at a park or shop near their house? Why not have them not meet at all? It’s not like they’re old enough to be the romantic leads.
Anyway, the landlord is trying to force them out so he can use the land to build a mall. He’s already been told by a court he needs to pay relocation fees, which he’s trying to get out of doing; the problem is, none of these people are destitute slum-dwelling types. They’re in full time work, and one of them could presumably take a few photos of the appalling things they’re doing to force them out, even take a recording (at one point, he walks the corridors of the building shouting “I’ve come to evict you!”) and sue the crap out of him. It’s a really dumb story for a movie.
The critters hitch a ride on the underside of the RV, sneak into the building and we’re on for another film of them not quite behaving enough like Gremlins to trigger a legal battle – although they skate close with this one. Some bits are funny, some bits are quite tense, but ultimately it’s a movie where you end up asking way too many questions about the dumb choices everyone makes.
- Why don’t they just leave as soon as the attacks start happening? The front door works, and the critters aren’t blocking the entrance.
- One of the survivors ends up hanging off the side of the building with her foot through a loop of rope. Even though it would be the easiest thing imaginable to just bend her foot and slip out of the loop, dropping the last three feet in relative safety, she chooses not to.
- Why do the critters (who were just eggs at the beginning of the movie) know who Charlie is?
- There’s a fire in the building towards the end, and with them being in the middle of a large city you’d think someone would notice it. Nope.
- How the hell do the critters lay eggs so quickly?
It just feels like no-one gave a damn about the story, which is a shame. The critters look fine, the effects are okay, none of the acting is all that terrible…it’s just lazy and slapped together. Terrence Mann’s name appearing in the end credits before he makes his tiny cameo is a good example of this. Director Kristine Peterson was assistant director on “Tremors” (which she sadly learned nothing from) and then would go on to make “Kickboxer 5”, which she did pretty well with. Which makes the suckiness of this one even sadder.
Rating: thumbs down