Satan’s Little Helper (Screen Media Films, 2004)
Writer/Director Jeff Lieberman is an interesting guy. He started out in movies co-writing Blade. Not the vampire hunting Wesley Snipes movie, the cool 1973 cop-vs-psycho flick. After that he made scads of industrial films and commercials and also wrote and directed a handful of really neat horror flicks, like Squirm, Blue Sunshine, Just Before Dawn, and Remote Control ’88. He always went back to his industrial films and commercials though, because they were so lucrative for him. He stayed there too, until finally returning to the feature world with this cleverly titled horror flick.
The cover of the DVD shows a creepy grinning demon face, and I assumed this would be a supernatural flick starring that creature. Not quite. Out in some small island community, little Douglas Whooly walks around playing the videogame Satan’s Little Helper on his Gameboy/DS thing all the time, making his little video avatar assist ol’ Scratch in killing scads of people for points. His flighty mom (Amanda Plummer – Needful Things) doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with this. Both are excited to go pick up Douglas’s sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick – Amusement and current Blog Hottie #1!), coming home on the ferry from college for her annual trick or treating with Douglas, who might be a little slow for his age, and who is often heard to say he’s going to grow up and marry Jenna. His sister. (Creepy!) Douglas is therefore most unamused when Jenna turns up on the island with Alex, her recently acquired main squeeze. While Douglas then sulks and plays his game more, Mom, Jenna, and Alex get caught up in preparations for the big Halloween party that night at the mansion of the island’s resident rich buzzard and don’t notice when Douglas wanders off. Somewhere out in the neighborhood, Douglas sees what appears to be a neighbor in costume and mask (the one from the DVD cover) setting up a little Halloween gore tableaux in the yard. Did I mention the kid is a bit slow?
Well, he thinks it’s a fake Halloween thing, but the viewer figures out pretty quickly the big creepy guy just offed somebody and is playing with the corpse. Douglas gets very excited when he thinks the big creepy guy looks like the Satan from his videogame and asks if that’s who he is. The big creepy figure looks at him for a moment, then nods. And at that point this movie took off for me, with several wonderfully chilling moments as Douglas and “Satan” start heading around the island, killing random people which Douglas believes to be faked by his new pal. Then the rotten kid gets it into his head that “Satan” would be the perfect solution for that boyfriend problem he’s got back at the house, and shortly after, through some plot complications Alex is nowhere to be seen, and Jenna thinks “Satan” is Alex in his Halloween costume, acting strangely frisky. But, it must be the costume and the holiday affecting him, right? And all through it, the evilly grinning “Satan” never speaks…
I thoroughly enjoyed this scarepic, as I have most all of Lieberman’s movies. It is by turns quirky, scary, funny, raw, and chilling, and although it is very low budget and starts to get a bit out there in a few scenes toward the end, it never goes completely off the rails, and comes to a conclusion that may not be the end of the story, but is the end of the movie. The cast is pretty good, with Plummer the most recognizable face, but everyone does a decent job in the performance category. Little Alexander Brickel is more than slightly miscast as Douglas, as Lieberman has indicated in interviews that Douglas was supposed to be like five or six years old in order for him to be hoodwinked so easily by the silent psycho, but no one would want to see a kid that young in the role considering what goes on in the movie, and Brickel is clearly more like ten years old.
But like I said, it just makes him seem fairly slow and doesn’t mar the movie. I’m going to let the strange miscasting of the Whooly family paterfamilias slide, since I’m assuming it was for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason was. He’s pretty young for the role, though, whoever he is, and a slick of gray in his hair near the temples doesn’t age him much. But he’s not in the movie much either. Finishing out the cast, special kudos go out to Katheryn Winnick, smokin’ hot and just wonderful as Jenna, and especially to Joshua Annex, absolutely perfect in the role of “Satan.” He doesn’t need dialogue. The guy is scary. Top marks. If you don’t mind your horror films on the low budget and irreverent side, you really should check this out. You could pair it up with the pretty good Amusement for a Katheryn Winnick double feature!
Actually, Satan’s Little Helper qualifies as a double feature all on its own!
And if that’s not enough to entice you to check it out – how about this moment as Jenna mistakes “Satan” for a randy Alex in costume…
And then put in three pictures of the two making out – with Winnick looking particularly orgasmic and ending with