Puppet Killer is the story of Jamie, whose parent raise him on a steady diet of classic 80s horror movies, along with his puppet and best friend, Simon. Unfortunately, when Jamie is young his mother passes away after a battle with cancer and he is left with his father and his new stepmother, who has a distaste for Jamie’s beloved films and Simon, but she disappears in mysterious circumstances having been murdered by Simon. Years later Jamie, now in high school, returns to his childhood home with his friends and the rediscover Simon leading to dire and bloody consequences.
Murderous puppets aren’t a new concept in horror given the success that Child’s Play had, and continues to have with that particular idea. However, where Chucky was a doll possessed by the spirit of a homicidal maniac, Simon the eponymous killer in Puppet Killer is closer to an analogue for Elmo from Sesame Street (although different enough to avoid any legal ramifications) with a particularly malevolent streak. That alone would have been interesting enough, but Puppet Killer, absurd as it is throughout, doubles down on the bizarre factor with Simon at points donning the iconic outfits of various horror icons (including the iconic Hockey mask of one Jason Voorhees) to further cement the ridiculousness of the film. Throughout the film there are also nods to the traditional tropes of the genre with the characters referring to themselves in reference to characters within horror movies, and presumably this is why the actors are all significantly older than the age of their characters – satirising the often absurd portrayal of teenagers by twenty-somethings, or in this case forty-somethings. It’s all very clever, but also very, very silly.
While the premise for Puppet Killer is relatively well executed, the acting is not the best. Particularly the “teenagers” who undertake the bulk of the film’s dialogue, but also the work early in the film from Jamie’s parents is less than stellar. It’s clearly a film that was made on a modest budget, as evidenced by the limited effects used at certain junctures, but the acting could definitely have been better. Ironically, it’s the appearance of directing duo The Soska Sisters who raise the competency of the cast, but their role is scarcely more than a cameo so the impact of that uptick in talent is limited.
It’s hard to say objectively that Puppet Killer is a “good” film. It’s going to depend on what you hope to see from it. If you’re hoping for a traditional, straight-laced slasher horror this is not for you. Judged by that benchmark, this is not good. However, if you love that particular genre and are willing to view this as an absurd satirical look at all the ludicrous hallmarks of the average teen slasher, while also running with the idea that Elmo from Sesame Street is inherently creepy, this might well be just the film for you. It’s silly, it has it’s tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek and it’s wholly unapologetic for poking fun at the movies we all know and love.
Puppet Killer will be available on Digital Download from 29th November