Plot: A decade of war has taken an drastic toll on mankind, as both Alliance and New Economic Bloc forces have been locked in a war of attrition, with heavy losses on both sides that continue to rise. On Sirius 6B, an outpost of Alliance forces remain active and are tasked to protect what resources remain, but they find themselves against a much more lethal rival than the NEB squads. A weapon known as a screamer was invented to annihilate enemy troops, an underground, robotic explosive that seeks out whoever happens to close, then strikes with vicious results. While the screamers were more than effective, the advanced robotics have evolved and in addition to going rogue, can now take different forms to mask their dangerous presence. Commander Hendricks (Peter Weller) has realized if anyone is going to survive, it will take the combined Alliance and NEB forces to battle the screamers, but have the robotics advanced too far to be stopped, even by mankind’s united power?
Entertainment Value: This is a tense, nasty sci/fi thriller that has some light horror vibes, as well as some wild, creative violence on showcase. The story is a solid one, as mankind’s tech has gone rogue, prompting long fiery rivalries to cool in an effort to ensure mutual survival. The movie is slanted to exposition over action, which results in a slower pace than most of its similar peers, but it also allows for more character depth and even some proper emotional beats. Some of the story elements are worked in too late to pay off, but Screamers invests a good chunk of its duration on development and it yields dividends. Of course, some will dislike the slower pace and focus on story, even as the movie deals out frequent tension and action to balance things out. I think perhaps because the more kinetic scenes are so much fun, it is easy to wish for more of them, rather than all the exposition. But I think a nice balance is reached and to me, that helps Screamers stand out from the pack. The special effects are impressive, with some sci/fi visuals and tech elements, as well as some blood soaked, horror style gore, so this is by no means a dull experience. I think Screamers is rock solid and for those who like a little horror in their sci/fi, well worth a spin.
The presence of Peter Weller in the central role lends the movie a terrific anchor, as Weller takes the part seriously and delivers a solid effort. He has the kind of grit to make the battle weary Hendricks believable, but also the charm to make him likable, which is important here. I appreciate that he took a sincere approach, as while there are some b movie vibes here, the emphasis on exposition means the cast has to flex some thespian muscle sometimes as well. Weller is able to hit those beats and help pull the most of the material, not to mention his costars. Jennifer Rubin is also likely to be a draw for genre fans, but I wish she had more screen time here. I always like to see her in movies and these kind of sci/fi or horror films in specific, so she is fun to watch, I just wanted her to have more to do here. Her main thread feels rushed, but she has some good scenes and adds to the movie’s appeal. The cast also includes Andy Lauer, Roy Dupuis, Ron White, and Charles Edwin Powell.
The Disc: Screamers hits Blu-ray via Scream Factory and while an old master is used, the movie still looks more than solid. The print is mostly clean and free from age related issues (once the credits finish), while colors are on the cooler side, which is what the visual design intended. The detail level is fine, not the kind of treatment to turn heads, but a welcome improvement over the DVD editions. Scream Factory also recorded over an hour of new interviews with director Christian Duguay, star Jennifer Rubin, producer Tom Berry, and co-writer Miguel Tejada-Flores, while the film’s trailer is also included.