Director – Jeff Lieberman
Cast – Alexander Brickel, Katheryn Winnick, Stephen Graham, Amanda Plummer, Joshua Annex, Wass Stevens, Dan Ziskie, Joyce R. Korbin
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Chance are…if you are a fan of the horror genre then you have a an interest/appreciation for the Halloween season. It is the time of year when the most horror films are shown on television, as well as the time when the “biggest/baddest” horror films aim to hit the big screen. This happens for a reason, and it is because we horror fans LOVE the season of Halloween. Well, due to this love for the Halloween season I went into Satan’s Little Helper with fairly high expectations, expectations that this would turn out to be not an amazing watch, but a fun and positive watch overall. Unfortunately, despite this film’s stellar premise and a cool looking antagonist all we get in the end is a film that had much potential, but employed little of it.
This one follows Douglas “Dougie” Whooly(Alexander Brickel), a happy and lonely kid obsessed with the newest video game to hit the market…”Satan’s Little Helper”. It is Halloween, and Dougie’s only other sibling/friend, Jenna Whooly(Katheryn Winnick; Amusement, Hellraiser: Hellworld) has arrived in town to continue the tradition of taking Dougie out trick-r-treating for the evening. However, much to Dougie’s surprise and hatred, Jenna has brought her new boyfriend Alex(Stephen Graham) with her, which does not sit well with Dougie. The naïve Dougie wanders off for some time alone and comes across a serial killer dressed as Satan himself. Eager to become “Satan’s Little Helper” in real life, Dougie befriend’s Satan and convinces him to get rid of Alex for him. Dougie soon realizes that he is in way over his head though, because Satan doesn’t just want to rid the world of Alex, but of Dougie’s entire family as well.
To say the least, Satan’s Little Helper is a film I will remember. Writer/director Jeff Lieberman(Squirm, Blue Sunshine, Just Before Dawn, Remote Control)’s quirky direction and subject matter made this a memorable watch for me, although I must say that in this case “memorable” does not mean “enjoyable”, just a film I will still remember a month from now. The feel of this film will require patience from the viewer, especially because the true star of the film, Satan, mutters no words whatsoever. Now, we should all be used to a silent antagonist thanks to Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, but what requires patience in this film is the fact that we get A LOT of scenes involving Satan. In the Friday the 13th(from Friday the 13th Part 2 and on…) and Halloween series we get Jason and Michael action here and there, and evenly spaced at just the right times with the right amount of action and gore. Why? Well…because they are silent. They can only do so much as far as entertainment goes. In other words, if they are not killing or stalking…they are boring. The problem with this film is we are forced to watch Satan go about his business with Dougie without saying a single word. I did find the usage of Satan to be really cool thanks to the fun actions and mannerisms we were given on his part, but nonetheless it did require a fair bit of patience from me at first until I adapted to how things were going to be regarding him.
This is an obvious low-budget effort from Mr. Lieberman, so his direction may come off a bit weak or amateurish at times, and I blame that on the lack of a real budget. He is by no means an amateur as he has been in the business for over three decades now, and he proved he knows what he is doing by keeping my interest without showing me very much for the majority of the film. I must also comment him for giving us a really sweet looking antagonist. He was not only creepy-enough with his sweet mask and mannerisms, but he provided a nice element of “fun” that I really did not see coming at first, but gladly appreciated.
So why the 5-rating if Lieberman did an OK job with direction? Well…because the story holds this one back. None of the characters in the film were the last bit likable, including Dougie himself, who I am sure we were ALL supposed to like. In fact, I must say my favorite character from the film would have to be Satan, and while I liked what Satan gave me he is nowhere near the enjoyment levels like other silent killers such as Victor Crowley of Hatchet. Despite these character flaws, this flick is also highly predictable and only becomes worse as it goes on. I remember sitting down during a “tense” scene and completely losing interest because I was already fully aware of what was going to happen, and sure enough, what I expected to happen…happened. Oh well.
Overall, this is a unique film in a sense that it comes off unlike most other horror films out there. There is a fair amount of dark comedy mixed with quirky execution, and a screenplay that will require much patience from the viewer if they wish to make it out of this one without dozing off due to lack of interest. We get a sweet looking antagonist that also provides a fair amount of “fun” in the film, but in the end this amounts to a less than favorable watch that turns out mediocre at best.