Satan’s Little Helper Blu-ray Review: Ripe for Discovery

As a fan of horror flicks, I like many of them (even the lowest tier ones), and celebrated cult director Jeff Lieberman made one of the most interestingly baffling ones with Satan’s Little Helper (2004), which is a rather different approach to horror.

Nine-year-old Dougie (Alexander Brickel) is obsessed with the video game “Satan’s Little Helper”, and is ready for Halloween. He is overjoyed (and seems to have an unhealthy infatuation) when his sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick) comes home from college but is very annoyed and angry that she’s brought home new boyfriend Alex (Stephen Graham). So, he runs away. Afterwards, he witnesses a figure wearing a devil mask posing his victims like outdoor decorations. Dougie thinks this is so cool and offers to be his little helper. This eventually causes chaos for Alex, Jenna, and Merrill (Amanda Plummer), and for Dougie and Jenna’s mom because what they don’t know is the bodies are real and that the killer wants make new decorations out of them. In this case, the nasty tricks far worse than the treats.

I actually liked this quite a bit, despite the fact that the performances are off-the-wall and highly eccentric (especially from Plummer), and the dialogue is a little too over-the-top. For a movie like this, I think that was the point. The acting/story is not something you’re supposed to take seriously, because after all, it’s kind of a spoof of Halloween flicks.

The humor here is pretty dark here. After Dougie and the killer go shopping but pay for anything, the killer kills a cashier and pushes the shopping cart (with Dougie in it) like a race car. During this little stint, they run over a pregnant lady, a blind man, and a baby stroller. It makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. It’s morbid but that’s how most dark comedies operate.

Again, it’s not a perfect movie. There are some unanswered questions about the killer’s motivations and why he would hang out with a nine-year-old kid in the first place. In terms of Dougie, there obviously seems to be something off with him. Maybe he’s too gullible or just acting out his darkest impulses, and the killer is acting them out for him. But at the same time, by answering some of those questions, then that ruins the mystique of certain elements of the movie.

What I have to admire about this is that it comically captures evil in a small town, where you’re living a supposedly tranquil environment and you think you’re untouchable, but when shit happens, you’re completely oblivious to the fact that there’s something quite wrong. For that, it’s just like Halloween (1978), when showcasing the eeriness of nonchalant Americana.

Is it a very bad movie? Not quite, but it’s a not very good movie either. However, when the Blu-ray comes out, Satan’s Little Helper should be ripe for discovery and to become a staple for annual Halloween viewing. It is the time of flick that you don’t see too often anymore (for better or worse).

Special features include commentary by Lieberman, vintage behind-the-scenes featurette, a making-of documentary, a tour of the filming location with Lieberman, and a promotional trailer.

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