Let’s go to Africa.
Tremors 5 is a new and fresh take on the series. It’s now Tremors with casual racism.
We follow survivalist Burt (Michael Gross) who agrees to go to South Africa to hunt assblasters, though he is certain there aren’t any on the continent. He claims that the graboid species is only in the northern hemisphere… which ignores events in previous movies… and the fact that the locals have their own terms for creatures… So yeah, expect some high level writing here.
Anyway, this time our not-Kevin-Bacon character is Travis (Jamie Kennedy) a cool kid who motorcycles and knows about social media (and tactical stuff). So not-Kevin-Bacon and Burt end up working with locals to figure out what is going on. We have our romantic interest/scientist Lucia (Natalie Becker) and antagonist dipshit Basson (Lawrence Joffe), which is unfortunate because the series has avoided this trope, until now.
Ends up there are more than just assblasters (duh) and it seems like one of the worms can now chew through rock, but we don’t get to meet this one.
The best part of the movie is that the CGI doesn’t like someone threw up in a used condom anymore. The creatures have an intimidating presence. Granted, the CGI is already started to show its age, so this won’t last. We also don’t get as clear a look at them, which is wise on the one hand to keep them mysterious, but this also translates to shaky cam in the action scenes.
The use of shaky cam is not the only time we see this movie borrowing from other films. We have a direct ode to the Jurassic Park kitchen scene and nearly verbatim dialogue from Die Hard. I’m not sure why they threw these moments in as any comparison between the films will ultimately leave this one as the inferior.
Since I teased the film about casual racism I may as well unpack that. As noted in the fourth entry, the Tremors series is oddly good about diversity and even offers a more realistic racial presentation of the old west. However, they fall into the same trap that everyone does when making a story in Africa. The African village seems early modern (at best) and we have tribal dances, what we would call primitive clothing, and other images that present that nation of South Africa as somehow behind in time. While there may still be aboriginal communities, we aren’t interacting with them here. This seems to be a stand-in for South Africa as a whole, which isn’t a bunch of tents in the wild. Seriously, google Johannesburg for an idea of what a South African city looks like. Further, we seem to be blending South Africa the nation, the region, and the continent into one collective.
In the end, I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say the film is racist, but they clearly didn’t do their homework. The presentation here is often groan worthy. We also have more white Africans (which the film doesn’t make any mention of that dynamic) given speaking lines than any black individual. Is this the worst example of a film not doing their research? No. If anything, this is a fairly standard presentation of why research should be included even in horror films.
Odd plot points and logical gaps abound, but if you’ve stuck with the series thus far, you’re probably used to it. If not, get out now.