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Featured DVD Review: Goblin

July 24th, 2011

Goblin - Buy from Amazon

Goblin is the latest Syfy Original TV movie to arrive on my desk. Recently these films have had a reputation that is, well, poor. Will this film break that trend, or will it be just another example of a Syfy Original that should be avoided.

The Movie

On Halloween in 1831, the villagers of Hallowglen prepare for their annual ritual. In order to have good crops in the following year, they burn all of their diseased crops on Halloween. This year, they go one step farther and also burn a small child, who is deformed and diseased. When they throw her into the fire, her mother curses the town saying no baby will be safe, and with that a malevolent creature emerges from the fire to get revenge.

Flash forward to modern day and the arrival of the Perkins family. There's the husband and father, Neil Perkins; his new wife, Kate (Camille Sullivan); and his teenage daughter from his previous marriage, Nikki (Tracy Spiridakos). Not to mention their newborn baby, Nathan. (Along for the ride is Cammy (Erin Boyes), Nikki's best friend.) They've come to Hallowglen so Neil can start a business. He plans on opening a boutique to help draw in tourists, and perhaps there will even be a ski lodge in the nearby mountains. When they get there, the locals seem very friendly, except one crazy drunken guy, Charlie, who freaks out when he sees the baby. He warns them of the curse, but he is dismissed as the crazy drunken guy.

The next day when Neil and his business partner, Owen, try to have a meeting, they find the whole down is closed while we hear about the curse, again. At the same time, Nikki and Cammy have met a trio of local teenagers and hear the same curse story. Switching between Owen telling Neil and Kate, Jane (one of the locals) telling Nikki and Cammy, and the flashback from the prologue is probably the best part of the film. It's not imparting any new information at this point, but at least stylistically it's something. Unfortunately, it's not enough.

This really is a bad movie, right from the start. When the villagers are burning the crops, they treat corn with weevils and rotten apples as if they were demonically possessed. It's too over the top to take seriously, and not funny enough to be "so bad it's good". And this tone is carried throughout the film. The film is hampered by a small budget and for most of the movie, we don't see the goblin at all, and when we do its hidden beneath a cape. So without enough money to really showcase the titular creature, we are left with a dysfunctional family drama at the beginning, morphing into a teenage slasher in the second half. The supernatural element is kept to a minimum. This wouldn't be too bad if the characters were better developed or the mood was set properly, but that's not the case with either. Most of the characters are flat, uninteresting, little more than a horror cliché, etc. The lush green forest looks really good, but it's kind of bright for a horror film. Forest and night equals horror. Forest in daylight equals fun hiking trip. Limiting the appearances by the Goblin and how much we see of the creature likely saved a lot of money, which meant limited resources could be focused on a fewer number of shots. This means the few shots we do see are better than the average Syfy Original movie, but not by enough to be a selling point.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

When Donnelly Rhodes, a.k.a. Charlie, first appeared on screen, my initial reaction was, "Is this movie shot in Canada?" Yes it is. He's best known for starring in Danger Bay, which was rather popular with kids of my age, and one of his co-stars was named Crystal Ocean Supri Heavenly Blue Sky Hellman. She went by Ocean Hellman.

Goblin is a miss in almost every regard, the one or two high points in the movie can't compensate for the numerous missteps, and the DVD has no special features. Even if you are a fan of this genre, unless you are a fan of Syfy Original Movies in particular, there are too many better options out there.

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