Satan's Little Helper

During the tenth month of the year, just about any horror movie is welcome around these parts. Horror movies that are centered around the Halloween holiday itself are treated like V.I.P.s. It's a pointless endeavor to ever expect any of these movies to compete with JOHN CARPENTER's 1978 masterstroke but who cares? The search is its own reward. Sometimes you get a pleasant surprise like SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER, a movie that may not inspire you to lock your doors and bolt your windows, but delivers a general atmosphere of unfettered mischief that perfectly reflects the holiday itself.

Little Dougie Whooly's (ALEXANDER BRICKEL) video game inspired idolization of Satan is taken to the test when he imagines he meets his hero on Halloween night. In actuality, he has stumbled across a genuine masked killer on the rampage but Dougie's desire to live out his fantasy life blinds him to reality again and again. Jumping head first into the role of protégé, Dougie keeps a look out while the masked killer "Satan Man" massacres his neighbors, delighting in the bloodshed that he believes they are racking up "points" for. It's only when he discovers that he has endangered his family (mom is played by the always entertaining AMANDA PLUMMER) that that he begins to see his "master" in a new light.

"Satan man" and his apprentice's ability to blur the line between video game and reality hits a high score in a grocery store parking lot where they gleefully crash their shopping cart into a pregnant woman, a baby carriage and a cane-carrying blind man. It's this type of cartoony, slapstick black-humor that keeps things from getting too scary, but trust me it's worth the trade off. As much as this is a larky good time SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER does deliver its fair share of tense creepy little moments. If you have ever laughed at a Halloween costume only to find yourself with a moment of discomfort where you question its wearer's intentions, you'll recognize much of that feeling of dread here.

Writer/Director JEFF LIEBERMAN is the real deal. Not only did he grace us with the cult classics SQUIRM and BLUE SUNSHINE, but he's also the man behind slasher favorite JUST BEFORE DAWN. There are many interesting ideas bouncing around inside this particular treat bag. He explores the effects of domestic abuse, religion and media violence, and there is a constant preoccupation with the consistency in which people allow their preconceived notions to cloud their minds. All of these ideas come into play at regular intervals without ever dragging the action down. It's not a perfect film and many might be turned off by it's obviously meager budget but it's definitely the product of a lot of thought and imagination. If you are searching for a fresh modern take on the holiday look no further, SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER aims to please.

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Amanda By Night
14 years ago

I've had this movie for forever but haven't watched it yet. I should dig it out. I think my boyfriend (who works in video games) would get a real kick out of this…

Great review as usual!

Btw, Lieberman is one of my favorite directors of all time. Even if the film misses the mark, like Remote Control, there's something much deeper going on. I really appreciate his work.

14 years ago

it's hard for me to see how someone can't find the greatness in this film. I've been a fan of it since it came on DVD. I'm glad you shed some light on it. It's an unsung classic. I LOVE IT.