Adam Thatcher is a regular chap - wife and two kids, steady job, another woman on the side, all that sort of stuff - but the whole family gets slightly more than they bargained for when they move in with Grandma. A metal box is being passed around, with each owner telling the next that they need to give it to someone they love before the timer runs down. We discover that the box releases a vicious creature at regular intervals, which of course sees Adam's family dropping like flies, in turn putting him firmly in the sights of the local police detective...
The creature makes its first appearance in the opening scene, and immediately we run into a problem in that it doesn't look anything at all like whatever you might associate with the word “gremlin”. It's more like what you'd get if the Cloverfield monster starred in Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and every time you see it you'll just find yourself getting distracted by thinking “that's not a gremlin”.
Hold on a second. A creature that looks a bit like Cloverfield living inside an indestructible box a bit like Hellraiser, bringing death to its owners' nearest and dearest until the box is passed on to a loved one, a bit like It Follows. Gremlin certainly wears its influences on its sleeve.
Many of the performances here are fairly flat, and you get the feeling that a couple of extra production meetings might have helped to eliminate some of the many inconsistencies. A couple of quick examples of the sort of thing you can expect: someone crawls into a hallway after being attacked, but the blood they had been covered with seconds earlier has miraculously dried up. Presumably the owner of the house didn't want them to get the carpets mucky. Later, fifteen minutes before the end of the film, we're treated to a nicely animated sequence filling us in on the box's backstory. Unfortunately, by this point we're already as clued up as we need to be, so the entire scene feels quite redundant.
The closing five minutes pick up a little when the timer ticks down for the final time and all hell threatens to break loose, but the final boss of the film is dealt with just as quickly as it arrived. After sitting through 85 minutes of four-out-of-ten-play you'd be quite within your rights to expect more than two or three forlorn dribbles of excitement, but there we go. There are definitely worse things you could do with a spare 90 minutes, but there are millions of better things you could do as well. File under “passes the time, but you wouldn't want to watch it again”.
GREMLIN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: RYAN BELLGARDT / STARRING: ADAM HAMPTON, KRISTY K. BOONE, MICHAEL PAGE, KATIE BURGESS, CATCHER STAIR / RELEASE DATE: JULY 11TH (VOD)