April 29, 2011

Netflix'ns: Satan's Little Helper

Netflix'ns is a series of review shorts of films, new and old, seen on Netflix, be it DVD or streaming. For better or worse, I sat through these films and have lived to tell the tale. These are not so much reviews as just comments on the film watched. Some will be first time views, others will be revisits. This is a work in progress.

I have a habit of combing through Netflix Watch Instant offerings and adding all manner of titles to my queue. Quite frankly, my queue can be a little overwhelming and always hovers near the 500 film max. Because of this I often pick what I am going to watch first based on what is about to expire (it's a shame that anything has to expire, but what are you going to do?). In any case, Satan's Little Helper turned up on the list and I figured I would give it a shot.

To be completely honest, I cannot say I expected much from it. It had a rather silly looking poster art, I had never encountered any buzz for it, and it was a direct to video release to boot. Well, I started it up and it seemed a little silly at first. I thought it was going to end up being one of those movies I watched 15-20 minutes of and gave up on. That is something I used to never do, but with all the stuff I want to watch, I want to waste little time on the stuff I don't like.

Satan's Little Helper is a pure B horror movie. It comes complete with mediocre to poor acting, bad dialogue, characters who do stupid things, and an all around horror on a budget looking production. It does have the writer/director going for it. He may not be the most prolific filmmaker of late, but Jeff Lieberman has brought us such films as Squirm, Blue Sunshine, and Just Before Dawn.  He returns to the director's chair with a darkly comic vision in tow and has crafted a silly, slightly subversive little movie that has a solid tone and just the right amount of disturbing horror.

This is a movie that was (is?) easy to dismiss out of hand, but if you give it some time, it grows on you. You may be surprised to find how quickly it winds you over, if you just give it a shot. It is a movie I would gladly revisit.

What is it about?

It opens with a young boy playing a video game called Satan's Little Helper. It's goal is to send people to Hell, rip out guts, and avoid God. Young Dougie loves it. He is dressed as a devil for Halloween and sets out on the town to find Satan and assist him in sending people to Hell. Meanwhile, his mother (Amanda Plummer), sister (Katheryn Winnick), and her new boyfriend Alex get ready for the holiday.

Dougie stumbles across a guy in an impressive Satan mask setting up what looks like a real dead body on a porch like a decoration. Dougie thinks it is a fake and asks the masked man if he can help him send people to Hell. Without saying a word the Satan nods his head yes. The problem is that this guy really is a killer.

What follows is a journey about town with a smiling Dougie watching horrific crimes take place. There never is any question about who the killer is (besides what may lie under the mask). We just watch in amazement as everything goes down.

It is a crazy little movie that looks at the relationship between videos and the young mind. It examines the line between reality and fantasy that can be blurred leading to a state where one does not know the difference. Either that or Lieberman just thought it would be fun to see a kid help a killer.

Amanda Plummer gives a fun, off her rocker performance as the mother. Seriously, she is a little weird here. Katheryn Winnick gives the best, relatively speaking, performance as the sister and there is a lot to be said for her Halloween costume. Then you have Alexander Brickel as the little boy, he seems slightly slow, but his smile is actually infectious, he will make you laugh.

Beyond all of them the guy playing the masked Satan killer is great. The mask is fantastic and he does a lot to make him creepy, scary, yet funny. The movements, the timing, everything just works really well to make him a memorable killer.

This is one to check out all you B-horror fans out there!

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