GREMLIN ** U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Ryan Bellgardt. 84 Mins
Perhaps you should never trust a movie that shows its monster in the very first scene…though GREMLIN begins well enough. Tetchy workaholic architect Adam Hampton, cheating on his wife and disconnected from his kids, receives the eponymous, boxed “Gremlin” with the instruction that he needs to pass it on to someone he truly loves or else meet a sticky end. It isn’t long before Granma is clawed to death and everyone else trapped in the house with the skittering, vicious little bastard.
Refreshingly, the film lets all the key characters see the Gremlin early on, and the CG beastie itself is better than most – even if (inevitably) it isn’t worthy to lick the scaly feet of the three decades old Joe Dante puppets with which it shares its name. Sadly, a whole bunch of tedious sub-plots cause the movie to self-destruct: the cliched cop-on-the-case; a teenage pregnancy; the protagonist’s infidelity. The dialogue is often abysmal (“I will NOT lose another child!”) and to sustain itself, the plot has to rope in a ridiculous (and, predictably, foreign) Basil Exposition character who appears to have taken the Maria Ouspenskaya class at Acting School. Worse still, there’s no one to sympathise with: Hampton might be the least likeable leading man of 2017 horror.
Review by Steven West