Tremors 5: Bloodlines movie full length review - An eleven year wait that satisfies probably the best that it could
I've waited eleven long years and suffered through a lot of misinformation, false theories, and reneged promises in hopes that a fifth installment of the long-running Tremors franchise would come to fruition.
I remember watching the first two films back-to-back on my off days from elementary school, brainstorming the possibilities for what a fifth film would entail. I remember scouring the internet upon being acquainted with it around the same time in hopes that some tidbits of information about a potential fifth film would circulate. I even remember trying to find answers as to why Tremors: The Series, the short-lived Sci-Fi Network program, was taken off of Hulu before being subsequently released on DVD, a date I faithfully marked on every calendar I owned. I even remember when Tremors 5 was reportedly going to be called "Tremors V: The Thunder from Down Under," potentially starring Kevin Bacon alongside Michael Gross to make the fifth installment an essential, circumventing chapter.
With all that, you can infer I was etched into this series and its world probably as much as the creators were, and eleven years later, well into college and almost past my insatiable craze for Tremors, I finally have gotten my wish. The fifth installment of the series, boasting the subtitle "Bloodlines," concerns an aged, but still spirited, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), who is now hosting a survivalist TV show on network Television, which has him venturing out into the deep desert of his hometown of Perfection, Nevada to hunt dangerous creatures of all sizes. Filming for one episode is interrupted when Travis (Jamie Kennedy), a young hot-rod on a dirtbike, speeds through and offers to be his cameraman and marketer, promising to turn the Gummer name into a globally recognized brand. This comes at the same time a man claiming to be from a South African Wildlife organization offers Burt a hefty sum of money to hunt and capture the subterranean beasts known as Graboids, specifically Ass Blasters, that have invaded the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa. Burt jumps at the opportunity, with Travis tagging along for good measure, but upon arriving in South Africa, the two realize the worms have surprisingly, yet unsurprisingly, taken a bold new turn in their biology.
Tremors 5: Bloodlines is the first installment not to have any involvement on behalf of S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, or Nancy Roberts, all of whom once writers, producers, and, with the exception of Roberts, directors of the preceding films in the franchise. This lack of involvement had me initially nervous, but it's refreshing to see a series picked up, dusted off, and respected by a new breed of talent, including Don Michael Paul (The Road to El Dorado) in the director's chair, in addition to a trio of new writers. The new writing team - comprised of Woodrow Truesmith, M.A. Deuce, and C.J. Strebor - work to breed the kind of respect the first two sequels had, as well as try to alter the series enough to build off of each sequel's desire to take the biological attributes and repercussions of Graboid behavior to a new level.
This is what has kept the Tremors franchise alive and well for three decades now and the result shows with the sequel. At the heart is Michael Gross, who gives it everything he has to give this franchise another winning installment, after a rather lackluster prequel. Gross, who is nearing seventy, packs as much energy and gumption as he did in the original Tremors film, and alongside Kennedy, who is more reserved than he is rowdy here, the two make a delightfully mismatched pair that echoes the sentiments of Earl and Grady in Tremors II.
The special effects here are probably the best they've been since Tremors II; the latter two sequels saw the budget of the series quickly deteriorate into visually mediocre fodder that belonged on dimestore horror networks. Tremors 5 helps reinvigorate the look of the film by adding visual credibility to the monsters. While I'm almost positive nobody will mistake this for an eight-figure, studio product, the effects work here is the most believable it has been in well over ten years and it's about time the franchise gets much-needed zest restored into its visuals.
I can sit here and express my minor quibbles about Tremors 5, addressing the lack of the original castmates, the lack of variety in the monsters, the more modern display of technology, the tad too- heavy reliance on goofy quips, and so-forth, all of which would mostly be coming from my nostalgic side rather than my rational side. Not to mention, waiting over a decade for a film and being entirely satisfied is an unheard of thing. What I can say, however, is that I'm glad Tremors 5 has finally seen the light of day and it returns to the mix of slowburn suspense and goofy jabs at characters' egos, as well as reemphasizing the great deal of respect that Wilson, Maddock, and Roberts have etched into the films and their characters since day one. Finally, much like Graboids themselves, even when the chips were down and multiple release plans fell through, Tremors 5 persevered through it all and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see another installment down the road.
Starring: Michael Gross and Jamie Kennedy. Directed by: Don Michael Paul.