Gremlin (2017) poster

Gremlin (2017)


USA. 2017.


Director/Screenplay/Visual Effects Supervisor – Ryan Bellgardt, Producers – Ryan Bellgardt, Chris Hoyt, Josh McKamie & Andy Swanson, Photography – Josh McKamie, Music – David Stone Hamilton, Makeup Effects – Nate Bright, Jenna Green & Chris Snyder. Production Company – 6 Stitches Entertainment/Boiling Point Media.


Adam Hampton (Adam Thatcher), Kirsty K. Boone (Julie Thatcher), Catcher Stair (Charlie Thatcher), Michael Page (Detective Patterson), Katie Burgess (Anna Thatcher), Mike Waugh (Jim Roberts), Connie Franklin (Natalie Rose), Caleb Milby (Tyler Cook), Vicki Wilcox (Mary), Rachael Messer (Luciana Ferro)


Elderly Mary Roberts is given a box as a gift by her son Jim. She gives the box to her son-in-law Adam Thatcher, who is living with her, along with his wife and children. They are startled when the box opens and a small goblin creature emerges. It kills Mary that night, followed by others around the house. Adam finds that the only way not to become a victim is to pass the box on to someone you love.

Ryan Bellgardt is a director who first emerged with Army of Frankensteins (2014) and has found a place in the direct-to-dvd and streaming market ever since. Gremlin was his second film and he has subsequently made The Jurassic Games (2018), The Adventures of Jurassic Pet (2019), Adventures of Rufus: The Fantastic Pet (2020) and Dinosaur World (2020).

The title immediately makes you think of a film trying to cash in on Joe Dante’s duo of films Gremlins (1984) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). It is a surprise given the number of creature films made since then that nobody has had the idea of offering up a gremlin in the singular. The gremlin is a term made up by RAF airmen during World War II to explain inexplicable mechanical mishaps on aircraft and was popularised by Roald Dahl in his first novel The Gremlins (1943). A more accurate gremlin is the one that appears in The Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (1963), later remade as an episode of Twilight Zone – The Movie (1983)

The gremlin here is really more of a Goblin than a gremlin. It appears out of a magic box – with a vague explanation about being a captured demonic spirit – and comes with the interesting hook where the possessor of the box has to give it to someone they love in order to rid themselves of the curse. This brings the story closer to the acclaimed deviltry story Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon (1957) about people trying to get rid of a curse written on a parchment by handing it to someone else.

Kirsty K. Boone menaced by the creature in Gremlin (2017)
Kirsty K. Boone menaced by the gremlin

That said, Gremlin never comes with the sophistication of Night of the Demon, which is a classic of subtle suggested horror, or even Gremlins or any of the versions of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. The plot travels all in obvious ways – Adam Hampton is having an affair with co-worker Connie Franklin for the sole reason of having someone else he thinks he loves to give the box.

Adam Bellgardt delivers some solidly effective low-budget digital effects when it comes to the gremlin creature. On the other hand, there is nothing out of the ordinary or suspenseful about any of the scenes. The film arrives at an end that delivers no real solution, just a left field scene that involves a giant-size gremlin wrecking the house for no real reason other than because.

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , ,