Puppet Killer Movie Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Released by I No.Films
Directed by Lisa Ovies
Written by Kevin Mosley and Lisa Ovies
2019, 83 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Blood in the Snow Film Festival Screening on 21st November 2019
Aleks Paunovic as Jamie
Lee Majdoub as Simon / Curtis
Lisa Durupt as Jessie
Richard Harmon as Rick
Gigi Saul Guerrero as Brooke
From birth, Jamie’s mother (player by writer and director Lisa Ovies) brought him up on a diet of horror films. When her life is cut short due to cancer, Jamie has only his dad and lifelong puppet companion Simon for comfort.
Jamie’s dad eventually moves on and attempts to date, but bringing up a seven year-old obsessed with horror movies rubs some people the wrong way. Lines are crossed when the ‘wicked stepmother’ tears up Jamie’s posters and threatens to get rid of Simon, resulting in her brutal murder and mysterious disappearance.
10 years later, Jamie is still coming to terms with the events of that night. Unable to differentiate between reality and the marathons of horror he watched growing up, Jamie and his high school friends venture to his childhood home to finally bury his past and party in the process. But there was one friend Jamie wasn’t planning on reconnecting with and on the 10 year anniversary of his stepmother’s disappearance they’ve got plenty of time to kill.
Puppet Killer is a humorous nudge and wink to the much loved and/or loathed horror genre. The most obvious motif it exploits is in how horror films have a long history of casting older actors to play their ensemble of teenage ne'er-do-wells. Here, this trope is pushed to its extreme with this group of misfits being lead by 6’5" Aleks Paunovic, who was around 49 at the time of filming, playing the ‘innocent’ and vulnerable 17-year-old Jamie.
While it is effectively an ongoing joke (Jamie’s dad is younger than his son) it does tend to cause more uncomfortable cringe moments than outright laughs, but consisting of an all cult cast of ‘oh-it’s-that-guys’ it is easily forgivable.
Horror/fantasy/sci-fi fans will recognise Paunovic from I, Zombie, Dirk Gently and the recent Volition. Richard Harmon, who gives a stand out performance after appearing in Grave Encounters 2 and The 100, Lee Majdoub from The 100 and Dirk Gently and Kyle Cassie from Deadpool. Additionally, the ‘slut’ trope Brooke, is played by horror writer/director Gigi Saul Guerrero (El Gigante, Mexico Barbaro) and a surprise cameo becomes substantially more than you expect. While the latter does feel conveniently wedged in, it's hard to deny that both the film and the audience is better off for including it.
Puppet Killer is made for a horror festival audience, with moments designed to spark crowds to cheers, including countless homages, violent deaths, self deprecation and fourth wall breaking. Puppet Killer even goes as far as provoking its audience with the core message of ‘watching too many horror movies never hurt anyone, right?’
Director and writer Lisa Ovies successfully makes a festival-going experience guaranteed to be a fan favourite amongst its attendees. Everyone in front and behind the camera looks like they are having genuine fun and the quality of the production turns it from being something that’s downright ‘silly’ into a love letter to the genre.
Whether that is something that works well when watching it at home on your own will depend on the viewer, but anyone experiencing Puppet Killer on the horror festival circuit is going to have plenty of reminders as to why horror is the most iconic of genres.
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