Goblin: Syfy Original Movie Review

Goblin Syfy Movie
by Jason Lees, MoreHorror.com

I don’t mean to be bitter, but I think I’m going to look back at “Goblin” with some serious hate, and it’s really not the film’s fault. It doesn’t deserve my anger or spite. It’s not controversial or schocking. It’s not extreme or offensive. It’s just a sort of run of them mill SyFy Movie of the Week, nothing too out of the ordinary, but it’s going down in my book as the first film to make me feel very, very old.

It wasn’t the plot that did it. No, that was fine, if a little tired. What we get is a mash up of “Blair Witch” and “Pumpkinhead,” where a wronged mother back in the 1800’s puts a curse on a town after they burn her child. That curse comes in the form of a goblin that shows up wearing a grim reaper like cloak and steals all their children every Halloween.

Now we jump ahead to the present day and find the same goblin showing up to steal the town’s children, but since its been doing its annual duty, there aren’t any locals left so it has to hunt down the infants of whoever is visiting their humble little village. (And please don’t question how the town survived all these years without being able to keep any of its offspring. Logic has no place here.) As far as a monster out for revenge kind of movie, “Goblin” has all the key pieces it needs.

It’s not terrible, and I know you’ve seen worse. The problem is that for once we’re given a cast that can act, and that’s where “Goblin” crosses the line. How dare they?

I don’t mean Oscar level acting chops. No one is going to mistake this for high art, but the story focuses on a family with legitimate issues who come to the town to start over. Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption) plays the father trying to start up a business there with his new wife, played by Camille Sullivan. The two have moments of marital banter that actually comes off as cute and real. Again, there’s no place for this type of nonsense on SyFy. How dare they? Then we have Tracy Spiridakos (doing her best to be invoke Katie Holmes) playing Bellow’s daughter from his first marriage. We find out that her mother has passed away and the new family dynamic is just as stressful as it should be, especially now that Pa and new Ma have a newborn added to the mix.

And yes, that infant is what will later attract the goblin, and bring us back to the horror story of revenge. And here’s why “Goblin” pissed me off. I was really enjoying the family drama, the little pointed jabs between daughter and father, and the way the step-mom really had to walk the line between being understanding and telling her obviously pissy step-daughter to shut the hell up. When it was time to bring on the monster, I was actually pissed that the Lifetime-esque movie that I was watching had to end.

And for that, I’ll never be able to forgive “Goblin.”

Writer Raul Ingles and director Jeffery Scott Lando have a little history making genre flicks, but when the ‘action’ starts, it’s all flat and by the numbers. There’s no heart in it anymore, but when the story focused on the family, they had a surprising amount of empathy going for them. Normally these scenes are just filler, played out to just bide time until the next kill, but in “Goblin” I felt like it was reversed. I didn’t need to see the bad CGI monster. Just give me my melodrama and let me see if mom and dad can make things work.

GOBLIN is too uneven to really recommend, but it’s got a lot going for it. The acting, especially by Canadian fave Donnelly Rhodes (trust me, you’ll recognize him when you see him) is better than you’d expect and the twists are all there to keep the story going, but it’s just not something you’ll want to rush out to see. Of course, if it’s 4 AM and it’s between “Goblin” and the Farm Report, you better go with the former. Just don’t blame me if you notice new grey hairs when it’s over.

"GOBLIN" hits DVD for the first time on July 26, 2011 and is distributed by Lionsgate. Produced by GOBIPRODUCTIONS INC. All rights reserved.

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