“I see you’ve come up north loaded for bear, Mr. Burt.”
Justin’s rating: Do graboids have theology? If not, how are they in hell?
Justin’s review: It’s been a long — a very long — time since I’ve last done a movie marathon, and I forgot how mentally exhausting they can be. It’s extremely rare for any film series to be consistently good all the way through, so usually you get to a point in the marathon when you’re hitting the… lesser-good movies and are running out of enthusiasm for watching them. That’s me, right now, with Tremors 6. While there is some entertainment to be found in the sequels, only the originally was genuinely hilarious and en(Michael)grossing. And with Jamie Kennedy repeatedly stabbing these movies in the heart with his lack of humor, I didn’t know if I could take too much more.
Two more movies, Justin. Two more. You can do it.
Let’s start with the upshot of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, because I’m going to need all the momentum I can get to power through this. At the very least, we get more Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), more continuity, and a nice change of scenery. Last time, it was Africa. Now, it’s the frozen climes of Canada. Well, “Canada.” In reality, they filmed this in South Africa, which doesn’t have a whole lot of snow and thus required an in-movie explanation why everything looks like it’s definitely not the arctic.
The bad news? We also get more of Burt’s annoying son Travis (Kennedy) and another movie with the original Tremors writing team. I haven’t yet been sold on this recent era of the franchise, and with two movies to go, they better make their case strong and quick.
With the town of Perfection all but dead, Burt’s property taken by the IRS, and a new graboid threat popping up, our survivalist prepper is all but eager to take a swing at this new threat. The twist? This time the precambrian beasties are tunneling through the ice and snow of the arctic Canadian north. Once again, nobody thinks to contact law enforcement or the military; when giant tunneling monsters appear, there’s apparently only a single senior citizen in the entire world who can deal with it.
Right away, it’s apparent that Tremors 6 is a step up — a small step up — from its predecessor. The action gets going pretty much from the first few minutes and doesn’t let up, leading us on a wild chase up into a thawing and unforgiving land full of mythological critters. And speaking of the graboids and their spawn, these beasts come in far more fierce and intimidating, which is good, because they stopped being anything close to that several films ago.
There’s actually more going on here than just a low-budget Alien setup at a remote Canadian research station. When Burt and Travis arrive, they find a freak warming pattern has resurrected long-hibernating graboids and turned the area into a non-stop hunting ground. There’s also the mysterious presence of DARPA in the area, and Burt is struggling with a deadly infection from being ingested back in Tremors 3. With the odds stacked against the survivors and scientists being gobbled left and right, it’s time for a whole lot of quick thinking and MacGuyver jury-rigging montages.
Despite every line everyone says is a carefully prepared quip and some over-eager editing that makes action sequences occasionally difficult to watch, the cast and crew of Tremors 6 is trying hard to deliver the goods. And they do. I genuinely wanted to keep watching, not out of a marathon obligation, but because the people were likable (including the daughter of Kevin Bacon’s Val) and there’s always something interesting happening. It even made me laugh, which is something I once took for granted in this series but learned not to expect as much as time went by. I mean, we still groan whenever Jamie Kennedy appears in a scene just as you started to pretend that he wasn’t in this, but we have endured more trauma than his scuzzy face in our lives.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is a quicker, quippier entry than Bloodlines with better special effects — and it makes a good case that this series had some life left in it, after all. Not much, but some.