SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's hard to put into words how astonishingly perfect Joe Dante's Gremlins is. There is simply no horror-comedy that has even come close, except maybe Gremlins 2: The New Batch or The Howling; also directed by Joe Dante. He just understands how to craft a film, plain and simple. He understands that you need to show and not tell, he understands that unnecessary exposition is UNNECESSARY, and he understands that it doesn't hurt to scare the child audience. Truly, this is mean't for kids who want and can take a good scare, because some moments still freak me out.
Man, this review is messy. I mean, It's just so hard to talk about this utter masterpiece without going into endless tangents. So, I'm going to separate this review into some categories:
Perfect, absolutely perfect. The camera looms constantly, tracking the characters as they wander this Norman Rockwellian landscape gone horribly wrong. Crazy angles, exceptional visual storytelling, and just a wondrous job from the first frame to the last.
John Hora's work on this is as flawless as the direction, with the silent snowy streets and the vibrant Christmas light echoing in every composition. When the Gremlins are on the loose, and their shadows are reflecting in every Christmas bulb; the sense of claustrophobia and deafening silence is truly impeccable.
The Picturesque and Norman Rockwellian town of Kingston Falls is one of the greatest fictional cities in cinematic history. Simply put, there isn't a better town to host a story of darkness underneath the sugariness of quiet suburban life. I love it. The classic movie theater. The department stores. Dorry's Bar. The small and quaint family homes, lit up softly by a plastic Santa Claus and his Reindeer. Just immaculate.
The acting is pitch-perfect for this type of story. The old man who predicts the situation. The sheriffs department who doesn't believe our protagonist. Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates are the perfect couple, and you completely buy their characters. And Phoebe tells a story in this that is so dark and twisted, wow wow wow. That story is almost as twisted as the rest of the movie.
The creature effects in this are still stunning, and they bring a presence that you can't find in cinema anymore. Plus, when certain Gremlins meet their end, It's some of the gnarliest stuff that you could get in a PG film at that time. Thanks Spielberg!
And you can't talk about Gremlins without the little buggers themselves. Crazy, bonkers, insane, and laugh-out-loud funny; they steal the show and run with it. The bar sequence, the movie sequence, the attack at the house, the caroling scene; Basically, there are way too many moments to list here.
Overall, I can't gush about Gremlins enough. Beautiful, bold, funny, creepy, atmospheric, and fantastic; this is the childhood classic that improves with age.
And that final shot though! Cinema at its finest!