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Satan's Little Helper
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Jeff Lieberman

Written By:
Jeff Lieberman

Alexander Brickel, Katheryn Winnick, Stephen Graham, Amanda Plummer, Wass Stevens, Dan Ziskie, Melisa McGregor, Joshua Annex, Joyce R. Korbin, Anthony Ardolino, Mary Kay Adams, Christian Robert Varley, JoAnna Beckson, Larry 'Ratso' Sloman, Lisa Barnes

Satan's Little Helper (2004)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
February 27th, 2009

'Satan's Little Helper' contains an intriguing premise that I just could not accept. 9-year-old Douglas Whooly (Alexander Brickel) is obsessed with the violent video game of the title, a present from his mother, Merrill (Amanda Plummer); he plays it all the time, and, with Halloween approaching, he decides to dress up like Satan, and eagerly greets his sister, Jenna (Katheryn Winnick), returning from college to spend Halloween with "Dougie" (as she calls affectionately calls him). Halloween is very important to him (obviously), and he hopes to go trick or treating with Jenna, but discovers that she has brought along her boyfriend, Alex (Stephen Graham).

Dougie is jealous and resentful, storming off, and eventually stumbling upon what he thinks is an elaborate prank of some kind; a man, in a Satan costume (this one much different, and more realistic, than Dougie's) props up a dead woman's body next to the scarecrow decoration she has sitting on her porch. We notice the woman's throat has been slashed. This same fellow makes his rounds through the neighborhood, killing people at random; Dougie, thinking this guy is the real Satan, offers to become his assistant, and Satan Man (as he is referred to in the credits) silently obliges.

He never speaks, but communicates only with nods and hand gestures. Dougie leads him back to his house, into the cellar, and suggests that Alex be his next victim; with Alex gone, he can have Jenna all to himself once again. Alex, of course, is attacked and left unconscious; and when Satan Man returns with Dougie, Jenna and Merrill simply assume it is Alex in disguise. I have to say that I hated every character in this movie. Especially Dougie, who is one twisted kid. He thinks it is just a game, a sick fantasy, that none of these people are actually dead, at least until he watches as Satan Man disembowels his father, and then abducts Merrill. Dougie cheers enthusiastically as he rides in a shopping cart, with Satan Man running down a pregnant lady, a blind man, and hitting a baby carriage, with Dougie assigning points to each target.

How he could not realize that these are real people being harmed is beyond me; we cannot defend his actions or behavior by dismissing them as naive ignorance, it crosses the threshold into pathological cruelty, relishing death and violence. Merrill and Jenna play along with Dougie, and do not seem disturbed by his antics. Alex hates his father. I have to mention that Winnick's acting is atrocious; ironically, Jenna is a theater major. Plummer and Brickel are exceptional however, and I can admire their performances while expressing contempt for their characters. The film, from cult horror director Jeff Lieberman, has elements of deliciously morbid comedy, tackling controversial religious themes, with both Satan and Jesus making guest appearances, the latter in a particularly chilling scene towards the end.

I would maintain that Dougie believes in God and Satan much like he might believe in Santa Claus; children are often vulnerable to myths, and have a tendency to think the impossible is possible, which is why religious indoctrination begins so early in life. Adults who continue to believe such nonsense though are a more curious case. The identity of Satan Man is never revealed, which is frustrating, but a few sparse hints are dropped. The ending is deliberately ambiguous, but the scenes leading up to it are brilliant, as Lieberman plays switcheroo with the audience, skillfully leading us along, and tossing in some surprising twists, though they are fairly easy to figure out, and so it sort of ruins the surprise.

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