Director – Jeff Lieberman
Starring – Alexander Brickel, Katheryn Winnick, Stephen Graham, Amanda Plummer, Wass Stevens, Dan Ziskie.
Satan’s Little Helper is a 2004 horror comedy from eclectic director Jeff Lieberman; blending traditional slasher movie stereotypes with the consumer culture, the influence of television on an American audience and good ole fashioned gore.
Satan’s little helper is an interesting premise and works well as a fun popcorn movie; ideal Halloween viewing. Dougie is a young boy enamored with his sister Jenna and a video game aptly titled “Satan’s little helper” as Halloween rolls around Dougie hits the streets in his Satan costume to find the real life Satan so he can ask him to murder Jenna’s boyfriend Alex.
Unknowingly Dougie stumbles across a serial killer dressed as Satan and chaos and fun ensues as the duo wreaks havoc on an unsuspecting New England town on all hallows eve.
Played out as a richly dark comedy the actions of Dougie are questionable for everyone but himself who sees the murder spree as his favorite video game come to life, which in itself a great social study of youngsters and video game culture in modern America but don’t let that bother you as it was much glorifies and rejoices in the violence of video games as it condemns them allowing the viewer to take as much from this not so subtle dig at society and parenting.
The killer is just a deeply deranged man who takes lend of a young boy; himself unable to blur the lines of fiction and reality (again another excellent satirical nod to modern culture) using the guise of a familiar and almost worshipped character from Dougie’s childhood.
In a moment of genius the killer plays along with Dougie’s game and accompanies him around town on a murderous rampage, a standout scene involves Satan and Dougie speeding around in shopping trolley version of Death Race 2000 with the youngster gleefully running over people screaming “ten points!” as they mow down innocent bystanders in a gloriously over the top and gory sequence.
The killer himself brings much to the film and is by far the best actor on display(despite not having a single line in the runtime) here leading Dougie down an ever darker path with no remorse and little restraint on their rampage.
There are many films that take place on or around Halloween but there a few that use the trick or treat tradition in such a way making this a refreshing change to the usual offerings in the slasher genre.
There’s plenty of gore on display when the killer gets into full swing that will appease gore hounds to no end with enough comedy to keep the nights entertainment light-hearted with most of the death’s played for laugh’s rather than scares.
The acting is typical of a movie of this budget and listening to the audio commentary on the DVD Lieberman himself describes what he wanted the original ending to be like,sadly this was axed due to budget constraints, but this is not to take away from the ending which was used as that is just as satisfying ending the carnage nicely.
The scenes that are meant for shock value/scare tactics are effective and Lieberman masterfully crafts the line between the two never overshadowing or overstepping boundaries in the process; times where the action takes a darker tone allows the viewer to reflect amongst the comedy which is a genuine treat and adds a bit of depth to an otherwise lighthearted affair.
Jeff Lieberman’s film library is an eclectic and a quirky body of work; Satan’s little helper fits in perfectly; not as dark as Just before dawn (1981) but just as fun as Squirm (1976) with the surrealism of blue Sunshine (1978) thrown in for good measure making this an underrated film that will appease horror connoisseurs.
Satan’s little helper is a great B-movie gem and is garnering a well deserved cult following; essential viewing on a cold autumn night where the dank and miserable weather leaves the viewer wanting something to warm up to.