What I Knew Going In / What I Was Expecting
I'd never heard of Hobgoblins before today. I know that the sequel's not the same thing as Troll 2, and that's about it.
Hobgoblins is probably a Gremlins knock-off involving a kid who stumbles onto a bunch of tiny creatures. Whether they have cute names and distinguishable characteristics is another story. The plot summary for the sequel (normally I try to avoid those for this blog, but I inadvertently read part of it) mentions that it takes place 25 years later, so I'm going to guess it's about what that kid's life is like now that s/he is grown up.
I'm also going to guess that it's probably a Fake Bad Movie, which will suck. Sadly, another plot keyword that jumped out at me was "camp." You don't get to call your own movie "campy." That's something other people label you with after they decide they like your energy. Presenting yourself that way is usually a sign of desperation.
Needless to say, I'm not hopeful for this one.
What It's Actually About
Really, really shitty jokes, apparently.
Listen, I have to get this out of the way up front because I hated it so much and it's pretty much the whole movie. Every goddamn line in the movie is meant to be jokey, and it's hard to tell whether anybody thought they were legitimately having a laugh or trying to make you roll your eyes at the biggest groaner or maybe even going for Tim and Eric styled anti-comedy and they just weren't good at it. But it's all flat.
No - worse than flat. It's aggravating. It's the kind of comedy that just ends up making you angry. And believe me, I'm not above bad jokes - try reading my books sometime - but you can't make a whole movie out of them.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. One of the earliest hits is when a sexy nurse pushes up her breasts and a brass band plays a "Ba-BOOMP!" sting. Then somebody goes, "Oh, I can see two reasons why you got hired!" That's the kinda thing we're talking about. For 90 goddamn minutes.
If I went through a detailed plot synopsis and tried to hammer home every single one of my points, they'd just end up coming back to the shitty comedy. So let me just reiterate and I'll move on to the plot: this movie is not in any conceivable way funny.
So, there's these five college assholes who share a psychology class. There's Lead Guy, Boring Girlfriend, Jock Guy, Slutty Girl, and Clown Guy (who is also slutty, but he gets to mug at the camera for reasons other than sex, so I can't dismissively pigeonhole him the same way).
One day their professor asks them to come to a mental health hospital as field research. The movie opens with them taking a tour of the hospital, and eventually they run into McCreedy, an older patient who's here because he burned down a building while trying to kill "the hobgoblins." Instead of trying to diagnose and aid him, everybody makes fun of him because they're assholes.
When the professor is mocking McCreedy, it comes out that the first rule of the hobgoblins is that you can't say the word "hobgoblins" three times. If you do, you summon them. The college idiots go home and then the professor goes to his office, obviously to say "hobgoblins" three times and start the movie.
....or not, because then the movie cuts to the five idiots screwing around at somebody's house for like twenty minutes. Ostensibly they're getting ready for Movie Night, but this parlays into a bunch of intolerably long antics. Nothing of note happens, except when one of the guys pulls out a cell phone to make a crank call.
And that's when I had to pause the movie and look up the production year. Apparently this was made in 2009. I had no idea.
At some point, Lead Guy sees a hobgoblin and freaks out. Nobody else sees it, so nobody believes him. He tries to investigate the hobgoblin mythos further while his four idiot friends fuck around and waste more of my goddamn time. Garbage ensues and the hobgoblins mildly inconvenience everyone.
Like an hour later, Lead Guy goes to the hospital to get McCreedy's help. McCreedy explains that the hobgoblins prey on your fears, so in order to stop them, you have to face your fears. Everybody does. The end.
What I Liked
Look, I'll be a little tiny bit fair and admit that once in awhile, there's a joke that kinda sorta maybe works. The same way that if you take a machine gun and fire blindly into a forest for three minutes, you're probably going to hit at least one animal.
Tellingly, the best jokes are the most subdued. A brief sight gag here, a throwaway line there. For example, when the kids go to the hospital, there's a sign on the door that says "Do Not Disturb Further." It's not a rib-tickler, but I smirked. That's the kind of joke you'd expect out of a Naked Gun movie. It's better than this movie.
I'll also give them credit on a technical level. Once I found out it was made in 2009, I was impressed by the amount of effort they put into making it actually look like a B movie from the '80s. I honestly had no idea it was made (somewhat) recently until that one idiot pulled out a cell phone - even when the kids were tossing DVD cases around, I thought they were just crappy VHS tape props.
So, good on you, filmmakers. You fooled me the same way House of the Devil did.
Unfortunately, just like House of the Devil, I didn't particularly care for the actual movie itself.
What I Didn't Like
The jokes. Oh, God, the jokes. I can't stress enough how not funny this movie is.
Look, it's one thing to make a crappy movie that people find unintentionally hilarious. It's another thing to make a crappy movie with genuinely hilarious jokes. It's still another thing to make a comedy whose jokes aren't funny, but are so stupid that you end up laughing, anyway. All of these things have merit and any of them are fine fodder for a bad movie night.
Hobgoblins 2 is none of the above. It's a self-aware movie with bad jokes. At first, I thought maybe the director just had a misguided sense of humor and that things were going to at least be charmingly inept throughout. But then the bad jokes kept coming and I started to feel uncomfortable, then annoyed, then cranky.
It's the curse of the Fake Bad Movie, the worst kind of bad movie. It's not genuinely good because they were trying for it to be bad, and it's not ironically good because you can't intentionally be ironically good.
I complain about Fake Bad Movies all the time on my regular blog. I have no idea who their audience is. I imagine the only people who like them are fake fans of bad movies - people who are more in love with the idea of irony than they are with the reality. That's such a depressing affectation to picture, though. Who lives like that? Don't they have any hobbies other than pretense?
I want to take a minute to address those of you in your teens or early 20s. I'm guessing you stumbled across this website because you've had a taste of bad movies and you want more. If you're anything like I was at your age, you're probably flying through every bad movie review website and Youtube channel you can find to get a good laugh, and you might be thinking to yourself, "Wow, Hobgoblins 2 sounds so horrible, I can't wait to watch it with a friend!"
You're the exact person I'm trying to reach when I tell you this is not the movie to watch.
There's so many better choices out there. Go watch College Kickboxers or Strike Commando or Spookies. Hell, you can even go watch a Nico Mastorakis movie and you'll have a better time. Just don't watch Fake Bad Movies.
Would I Recommend It?
No. I started checking the time stamp only five minutes in and it got slower from there.
What I Think the Prequel Was About
They reference events from another movie in only the most ambiguous of terms, so who the hell knows. My guess is that McCreedy is the only connective tissue between the two. He was probably the unfortunate bystander character type that Dick Miller played in Gremlins, and he got screwed over even though all the other kids who fought the original hobgoblins are totally fine now.
My Pitch for Another One
First, hire a comedian to write the script. Then set it in the Gremlins universe and have a hobgoblin drink the brain formula that made the genius gremlin from the sequel. Then have him run for office and call it President Hobby.