Philip (Jaeden Noel) is a keen skywatcher and likes to point his telescope at the stars to see what the universe is doing every night. Yet tonight he witnesses a strange object streaking across the heavens, and is immediately convinced, as a UFO buff, something from another planet has landed nearby. His sister Drea (Tashiana Washington) is less convinced, however, more interested in getting into the nearby college like her late mother did, but her second rejection letter just came through, much to her disappointment. She doesn't want to spend the rest of her life delivering fast food, which is what she does now. But what if humanity were the ultimate fast food?
Back in the nineteen-eighties, Gremlins was such a big hit that there was a spate of little creature movies, some of which went on to have far more sequels than the Joe Dante-directed original did. Critters was one such franchise, and after a few entries it wound down until, as with more or less every horror series you can think of, it was rebooted in the twenty-first century. In this case it was one of those low budget efforts shot in South Africa (see also Leprechaun Returns), though here was made primarily for TV, The SyFy Channel to be exact, that content-hungry behemoth of genre television which was not accustomed to being the watchword for high quality entertainment.
If you had SyFy as part of your package, you would more likely be tuning in to sit and vegetate in front of some low engagement junk, which you may be thinking of a Critters sequel so long after the brand was at least mildly popular decades before. And while there were reactions that did not speak to a warm welcome, there were dissenting voices that pointed out for a start, it was not exactly a prestigious line of movies this was a follow-up to, and moreover this was actually easy to watch and not to grating, with a pleasing faith in the practical effects work that marked out those eighties instalments as very much of their time before the computer imagery took over.
Washington was an appealing lead, convincing with the wisecracks as she was with the go-getter attitude to guarantee her character would make it to the finale. She ends up babysitting one of the college's lecturer's kids in the hope that it will have a beneficial effect on her chances of admittance, and one suggestion they go on a picnic later sees the quartet (Philip comes too) stumbling across something hairy in the undergrowth. As we've already been treated to scenes of innocent passersby being chomped by the alien Critters, we expect the worst, but this is a white-haired furball that turns out to be some kind of royalty who the alien invaders are trying to recapture. Quite how we work this out takes some explaining, but it doesn't matter, really.
Dee Wallace was the only returning performer from the original (though Don Opper, who co-starred and had a hand in the '86 item was onboard as a producer), here essaying the role of Sigourney Weaver had she been part of the production, though don't expect her to be in this for too long, not because she dies, but presumably because she wasn't available for much of the shoot. The writer was comics scribe Scott Lobdell who had recently enjoyed a success with Happy Death Day, which may have you wondering why he followed that up with a TV movie, but such are the vagaries of the business they call show. He displayed a decent enough grasp of what was required in a Critters movie, even if the gore was more of the puppets biting the actor but not tearing off any flesh because that was beyond the project's resources. It was undemanding, but who wants a demanding Critters reboot, anyway? Neato synths from Russ Howard III for the retro soundtrack.
[There are featurettes as extras on Warners' Blu-ray.]