I’ve avoided this one for years. I didn’t care for the aesthetic. I thought it was just Jaws in the the desert. Having finally seen it, I wished I had watched it sooner. It is a well paced, creative, and extremely entertaining creature feature.

The movie opens with two good old boys working as hired hands in the little town of Perfection. The population is some 15 people. These two boys are Val and Earl played by Kevin Bacon and Feed Ward. These two have amazing chemistry. They are so natural and buoyant together. They have this brotherly warmth between them. I love the way they play off each other. They are going to finally get out of town, but on the way they find a dead body. Then another dead body. Then the road is blocked. What is causing all this? Well the local geologist Rhonda played by Finn Carter believes there is something under the ground causing crazy seismic activity. The small town bands together against the impending threat. What is this threat? Giant sand worms that burrow through the ground and eat anything that moves above ground.

The movie is a throwback to the creature features of the 1950’s. It perfectly plays on the genre stylings of the period. There’s a big monster menace, the plucky and relatable heroes, and the sense of fun danger that lets you know it’s going to be alright. Our heroes will triumph. What this movie adds to the formula is a great sense of humor. These characters are funny. Val and Earl are cracking jokes back and forth. The local store owner Walter is constantly trying to make money off of everything including selling photos with the monsters. The gun obsessed Burt is always going on about his perfect fallout shelter. They local teen who’s always causing trouble. This is a great cast of characters. The movie is funny in a consistently surprising way.

It’s also remarkably creative. They have built an awesome scenario for their characters to fight against. The creatures, they’re named “Graboids” by Walter who’s looking for a branding opportunity, can sense vibration under the ground. They move fast and can grab anyone almost instantly. They never get tired or go away. Our characters can’t set foot on the ground without getting grabbed. They get stranded on the roof of a building. How do they escape? They get stranded on a pile of rocks in the middle of a desert. How do they escape? They are stuck on top of an outhouse. How can they get away as fast as possible? Their solutions are clever and surprising. I love when characters are smart. I love when characters get themselves out of trouble instead of the writers using circumstance and convenience to help them escape. It’s a smartly written little film.

There are scenes of tension and suspense, but it’s not a scary movie. I think this is a great movie for anyone not interested in being scared this halloween. It’s going to be a fun movie no matter what time of year you watch it. I highly recommend this little piece of popcorn entertainment. It’s my cup of tea. A-

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