REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
What astonished me the most about this film was that while it does play with an excessive number of horror tropes, it really has fun with them. Guillermo Del Toro
and director Troy Nixey are obviously took a lot of inspiration from films like Saw
, Sleepy Hollow
, The Shining
and even a bit of Gremlins
and it has fun unabashedly playing tribute to it (There''s a very good scene where Kim is discovering the backstory of the unexplained goblins all while Sally slowly attacked in a bath that seems right out of a Hitchcock film).
What I think most reviewers tend to overlook is the growing relationship between Kim and Sally. The father's new girlfriend Kim (played by Katie Holmes), and his young daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) play their parts very well and very effectively. Madison was very convincing as a lonely child caught between the disputes of two unforgiving parents. Holmes gave a very heartwarming performance as the new girlfriend who didn't want to invade in as a replacement parent but still cared deeply for her even in the beginning. Unlike another Del Toro film with the same premise
, the emotional core was much more convincing here.
Another aspect I loved about the film was how it handled the perspective of a child's curiosity. Sally is an extreme introvert and as described doesn't have that many friends. As a result, she's easily manipulated
by the promise of new companions. It reminded me of an inverse version of "The Borrowers", where the little people inside the house want
to be noticed by the child but had malicious intentions. Furthermore, the design of the little goblins in question, while relying on CGI, is still very unique and scary.
That said, there is quite a large number of Fridge Logic
to this film as well. The motivation for the unnamed gremlins in the film is vague- why exactly do they feast on teeth? Why do they leave coins and how do they get them? Are there more out there in the world? Why do they specifically want a child sacrifice when at the end an adult sacrifice pacifies them?
So yes, a lot of points of this movie don't quite
make sense in retrospect. But for what it's worth, this film is genuinely entertaining. Definitely Needs More Love