Horror Movie Review: Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020)

This franchise is beginning to look a bit tired now and come the end of this 7th instalment, you get the impression that everyone is ready to move on. Tremors: Shrieker Island is the latest in the Tremors series of movies, the first considered a cult classic and released way back in 1990. Since then we’ve had a ton of sequels with varying results in regard to quality. There are some enjoyable films in the franchise… this is not one of them.

If you want to see our thoughts on the series to date. Check out our definitive ranking of films here.

When we last checked in with the Graboids, they had been tearing up Canada’s Nunavut Territory in Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell. Although they once again fell to the battle-weary hands of one Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) alongside his son, Travis (Jamie Kennedy).

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Tremors: Shrieker Island moves the Graboid action to a remote island known as Dark island. Where big-game hunter Bill (Richard Brake) invites wealthy men to come and hunt Graboids for a price.

This is unknown (somehow) to Dr. Jas Welker (Caroline Langrishe) and colleagues who are on the island researching… something. That part isn’t clear. What is clear is the seismic vibrations they are beginning to experience.

Along with Jimmy (Jon Heder), Jas finds out what Bill has been doing and that the Graboids here are beginning to birth Shriekers. She is unable to put a stop to Bill’s plans though as he has jammed all communication from the island for the duration of the hunt. To those aware of the characters Richard Brake plays, it will come as no surprise that he is a villain here. Still rocking one of the sleaziest smiles in all of cinema.

Got Graboid problems? Who are you going to call? Why Burt Gummer of course, played once again by Michael Gross. The only character to appear in every Tremors film to date.

Jas sends Jimmy off to find Burt having been provided with Burt’s coordinates by Travis, who isn’t actually in this film. Something about being in a Mexican jail after he tried to cross the border with drugs. Not that he is missed as Jon Heder’s Jamie effectively slips into the role and is much more likeable.

Burt has now retired from Graboid hunting and gone off-grid but Jimmy is able to find him and talk him into coming to the island. His initial reservations are heightened when he meets Jas. The pair have history, she is Travis’ mother and Burt is still annoyed that she kept his existence quiet for so many years.

Once all that is out of the way, it’s time to hunt Graboids and Shriekers. There’s just one problem… the island has no firearms. It’s time to go back to basics.

If there is one reason, and often it’s the only reason to keep watching Tremors’ movies, it is Burt Gummer. Michael Gross has somehow turned the surely bastard that played third fiddle to Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward in 1990, into a star. No Burt Gummer, no Tremors. It’s as simple as that.

His shtick isn’t getting any fresher but Gross always plays him with such gusto and energy, it’s hard not to love him. We need him in this movie too as elsewhere, the characters really lack meat to the bones. Even if most of the acting is solid to good. Both Heder and Brake falling into the latter category.

However, deep and meaningful characters aren’t why most people are here. They’re here for so good old fashioned Graboid and Shrieker action and its here the movie really falls down even if it is not through lack of trying.

The problem is just how often we’ve seen this same set of events over and over again. There’s nothing new or interesting going on and in some scenarios the rules are changed to such an extent that the ‘horror’ aspect of this series goes right out the window.

Remember when even the slightest vibrations would be heard by a Graboid? Here, characters stroll around the jungle even though they know a Graboid is under them. They talk loudly into walkie-talkies, have shouted conversations and seem totally unperturbed by Shriekers. Which are genuinely so useless, you start to wonder why they even bothered throwing them back into the mix.

The most important part of the monster movie series Tremors feels so neutered that it stops being fun to watch.

There’s a constant sense of ‘done’ with this film. Like everyone is just done with Tremors and wants this to be it. It’s the first in a while to make so many call-backs to the original and even has a similar ending. An ending that has emotional weight if, like us, you’ve been watching these movies over the decades.

Is this it? Possibly. There’s always the chance we could be reviewing Tremors 8: Graboids Bite Back in 2021 or 2022 but the door is beginning to close. For everyone’s sake, it’s probably best it’s slammed shut once and for all now.




Tremors: Shrieker Island
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