A man receives a mysterious box containing a terrible secret, a creature that will kill everyone else in his family unless he passes it on to someone he loves to continue its never-ending circulation.
Oh my god. Where do I start? Okay, Gremlin. Forget Joe Dante and the far superior movie about hordes of killer creatures. Is that all gone? Good. Ryan Bellgardt’s Gremlin is a crumby showcase for passable effects done on the cheap. It contains none of the humor, charm, and craftsmanship so carefully executed by the two gross-out creature features.
This Gremlin follows the hapless humans who are gifted with possession of a box containing a killer gremlin. Think Hellraiser’s Lemarchand’s box but far less ornate and creative. The box does, however, feature a cryptic dial. When the box springs to life it counts down one on the clock and unleashes the creature inside who then promptly kills one person before slithering back into its container.
“…whoever possesses the box, needs to give it away before the clock counts down through its 12 digits.”
Gremlin begins with a couple of suckers staring intently at the puzzle box, awaiting the return of the gremlin. Of course being the beginning of a bad film. The monster comes out, kills one of the two people, then goes back into the container. The only way to get rid of the box and the killer creature is to, and I am not making this up, “Give it to someone you love”. So, naturally, the survivor of the two takes the box and hands it off to his brother, Adam Thatcher (Adam Hampton). Problem solved.
Not really because we still have about 80 minutes of this to get through.
Adam is a married man with a wife, Julie (Kristy K. Boone), teenage daughter Anna (Katie Burgess) and a young son Henry (Christian Bellgardt). He has a mistress who keeps interrupting family time via text and phone calls but we don’t care. The minute the present gets to the house it opens up and the little monster kills his daughter’s boyfriend. There is no thought to call the ambulance or even the police. Instead they decide to put the body, wait for it, in the basement.
There is an implied urgency that whoever possesses the box, needs to give it away before the clock counts down through its 12 digits. As if the 11 deaths before it weren’t reason enough to start looking for a taker.
“…plays as sort of a 90-minute proof of concept.”
Okay we have given the plot more attention than it deserves. So how is the acting? Terrible. I haven’t seen anything this stilted since Troll 2, but not in an entertaining way but in more of a “we can see you acting” kind of a way. There seems to be no effort on the part of the actors to be likable or even relatable. For that to have happened, they would have needed a script that was serviceable.
What was good? Josh McKamie’s work as Director of Photography was acceptable as were the dollar store visual effects done by the director and co-writer Bellgardt. The entire pretense seems to have been a reason to showcase his talents in other realms. It plays as sort of a 90-minute proof of concept for what might be a better movie if there was some attention given to the story.
The worst sin a film can commit is being mediocre and I think that is what bothers me so. I can’t pinpoint a single remarkable element, positive or negative about this vapid waste. If someone tries to give you this box, do not accept it!
Gremlin (2017) Directed by: Ryan Bellgardt Written by: Ryan Bellgardt, Josh McKamie, Andy Swanson Staring: Adam Hampton, Kristy K. Boone, Katie Burgess,
Gremlin is worth not worth the time (*).
* Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)