By David Dent
I really liked this dark creature feature from writer/director Ryan (Army of Frankensteins) Bellgardt.
Meet the Thatcher family. Dad Adam isn’t getting on so well with his wife Julie after the loss of a child, and has taken a mistress, uptight work colleague Natalie, as compensation. Daughter Anna has just got knocked up by her vapid boyfriend, and son Charlie spends his time hiding out in a box in the living room. Oh and they’re all living with Grandmother Mary in her house.
Into this less than happy setup arrives a box, given to Mary by uncle Jim. The box, which is a kind of Lament Configuration puzzle type thing, contains a small creature who pops out from time to time to scuttle around and murder people. Starting with granny.
The only member of the family to have seen the little critter at work is Charlie, but his protestations about a monster on the loose don’t really hold sway. He lives in a cardboard box, remember?
The fun of this movie is the rather outlandish creature feature elements, combined with the decidedly soapy story of a family on the slide, the moral questions thrown up by the monster’s appearances, and the awkward injection of humour.
The gremlin of the title (who remains small for much of the flick) actually has a reason for the apparently random killings which becomes clear in the movie’s final stages, and which gives Gremlin a rather nihilistic feel.
Acting wise it’s all over the place, but special mention must go to Michael Page as Detective Morris Patterson, whose ghastly turn as the policeman investigating the increasing body count has to be seen to be believed, and who seems to misunderstand basic concepts of both sleuthing and coherent speech.
But that doesn’t really matter. The whole film is a hoot, from the overbearingly cheap string synth soundtrack, to the rather terrible CGI of the gremlin (a mini Cloverfield monster) to the plot contrivances – after granny is offed by the creature the family hide his subsequent victims (members of their own family!) in the cellar to avoid the police asking questions.
Trash? Yes. Entertaining? Certainly.