Say what you will about the noticably ropey third installment of the Critter movies, at least actually stuff happened. In New Line’s final crack at the franchise (until Syfy and Shudder resurrected the hungry little pissers in 2019 for a movie and tv series respectively) the movie decides that after bringing the voracious little furballs to a heavily populated area and then keeping them entirely within one building, this next installment has them whisked off to space in the year 2045 and then proceeds to have it’s cast wander around endless grey corridors for the duration of the movie.
Despite having a noticable before-they-were-famous entry in the form of Angela Bassett (which fits nicely with the appearance of an embryonic Leonardo DiCaprio in part 3), this is literally a franchise running on empty, so let’s get this over with before the Krites die of freaking starvation…
After cleaning out the Krite threat in a tenement building in Kansas, Charlie, an ex alcoholic/ex intergalactic bounty hunter/current… something, is about to wipe out the last two Krite eggs in existence when he is stopped by a drone that states that rendering any intergalactic species extinct, even carnivorous little turds like the Krites is a violation of galactic law. Placing the eggs inside the drone, Charlie’s natural Jerry Lewis-style instincts end up with him trapped in the pod, blasted into space and cryogenically frozen only to be thawed out when an outer space salvage team find him decades later.
Made of the usual group of complaining space-losers that’s populated sci-fi since Ridley Scott’s Alien first turned up on the scene, the group take the pod to where the powers that be instruct them to only to find it a run down, abandoned hulk of a space station. Because the crew is made up of fifty percent scumbag, the asshole captain convinces himself that he’s getting a raw deal for an item of salvage that he believes is worth more, so he storms down to the loading and starts shooting at it with a gun in order to get inside and plunder it (oh yeah, that scans). However, all this degenerate dumbass gets for his troubles is to be eaten alive by the two remaining baby Krites who soon grow to adulthood and start terrorizing the rest of the crew who’s survival rate seems to be based on how nice they are.
However, things are different for this particular infestation and it turns out that the space station was formally home to a secret bio-weapon facility that the Krites plan to use to make their next generation nastier and meaner than they ever were before so Charlie and and the rag tag survivors need to pull their socks up and get out of there. However, a former friendly face from Charlie’s past is going make things even more complicated than simply avoiding fuzzy chomp monsters.
Made back to back with Critters 3, what this fourth edition gains in it’s “orginal” setting, it loses out by being hideously boring and surprisingly poorly made. The fact that the filmmakers are obviously smug about the apparently original decision to move the franchise into space seems to have blinded them to the fact that the Critters movie started in space in the fucking first place – they’re aliens, idiots. Nevertheless, the movie forges on like this is all some sort of big deal (aliens in space, ingenious!) while blatantly trying to gloss over the fact that their budget in no way can handle the cost of visualizing the future. Instead we get interiors of star ships that have all the visual flair of the kind of dull corridors you’d get behind the scenes at a run down community college and medical bay that looks as futuristic as an all night pharmacy at a 7-11 and after the high production values of second movie it just makes you wonder why anyone bothered.
Tonally, the film is a bit of a mystery too as it either A) largely ditches the goofy, childish tone of the first three movies or B) doesn’t actually ditch said tone at all but instead is so woefully unfunny it just simply doesn’t register. The Critters flick’s habit of mixing graphic blood with infantile slapstick has always been curious, but to see one finally stripped of that ends up being as awkward as watching night vision footage of your parents having sex on a loop at a football stadium.
Not even the appearance of genre stalwart Brad Douriff or an aforementioned early role for Angela Bassett raises the material as all the characters are solely defined either by how boring or how lecherous they are and the fact that the Krites only manage to chow down on the shittier members of the crew obliterates any tension remotely left in the stunningly bland script.
So once again all our hopes lay at the little clawed feet of the Critters themselves but even the mischievous little ankle biters seem to be on an enforced go-slow with their trademark clowning reduced to one having a bald spot. Hilarious. However, despite this new generation of humour-deficient Krites, Critters 4 oddly contains probably the nastiest death in the franchise to date as one particularly unlucky crew member has a baby Critter dive into his mouth and starts chewing away why it’s little kicking legs dangle from his distended maw.
However, even this gruesome sight doesn’t detract from the contant stream of yawn that the script keeps feeding us – there’s barely any victims (the crew numbers five plus Charlie), barely any Krites (two!) and any time the plot tries to up the stakes it just spectacularly drops the ball. Why add the the whole bio-weapon angle as a legitimate threat if the Krites never really a chance to use it for anything and also the whole plot thread that the ship’s computer only responds to reverse psychology is blindingly annoying and the whole film drags like a legless dog on a leash and it’s hardly surprising this the franchise subsequently curled into a ball and went into hibernation for the next couple of decades.
For all the wrong reasons, Critters 4 fucking bites.