When I saw that Synapse Films was bringing Satan’s Little Helper to Blu-ray, I couldn’t help but get excited. I remember renting it from Blockbuster and was floored at how deliciously fun it was. It was written and directed by Jeff Lieberman, who had previously delivered such cult classics as Squirm (1976), Remote Control (1988), and Blue Sunshine (1977). It was released without much push, which was a shame since it delivered in every respect.
Dougie (Alexander Brickel) is a video game-obsessed nine-year-old who is excited to spend some time with his sister Jenna (Katheryn Winnick), who is coming home from college for Halloween. He’s devastated that it won’t just be him and his sister. She has brought her boyfriend Alex (Stephen Graham) home with her. Dougie goes off on Jenna and runs out of the house, only to witness a man in costume arranging a body on the lawn. Dougie believes the man is actually Satan, as the video game he’s obsessed with is called Satan’s Little Helper. The two go off on a twisted killing spree that will terrorize the town.
Satan’s Little Helper is every bit as worthy as a film like Trick ‘r Treat. It is essential Halloween viewing and one of the best modern films to take place on the year’s greatest holiday. Balancing comedy and horror is never easy to pull off, but Lieberman effortlessly toggled between the two.
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There’s a scene with a shopping cart that’s hilarious, but at the same time, it makes you feel wrong for laughing since it’s genuinely a horrifying moment. The entire film is never afraid to cross those lines and somehow make it funny.
The cast is terrific, and Brickel carries the film. We all know Katheryn Winnick has gone on to make a name for herself in Hollywood, and here it’s easy to see why. While it may be a minor role, Amanda Plummer is one of her generation’s most underrated actresses, and I loved that she’s a part of this film.
The mask’s design is one of the best in modern horror, and the character could and should have gone on to terrorize in subsequent films. However, we were only given this one for whatever reason, which I’m truly grateful for having seen (many times).
Synapse has given this release a nice package, complete with a limited slipcover design by artist Wes Benscoter (only 2500 available). There’s also an insightful commentary by Lieberman, a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette, a promotional trailer, and The Devil in the Details: Making Satan’s Little Helper.
With the film released 12 years ago, it may get the respect and love it deserves.