Suspense is generally built during the course of any movie because of a particular series of events that lead up to it. It can occur in instances where you really care about the characters. Sometimes its as simple as the filmmakers catching the right mood in combination with the perfect swelling piece of music. Sometimes it can just be from the editing, when it is just so tight that you can’t help but get involved with the movie! The thing about Satan’s Little Helper is that not one of those things happened for me while watching. Ultimately I just sat idly by, waiting for the next sequence to start. The only real reaction this movie provoked was unsolicited laughter and often times anger at the character of Dougie who absolutely deserved to die. I have never, in all of my years as a movie fan, so desperately hoped to see a child die inside of a movie. Not even with the underrated Orphan which also featured a very unruly brat. Dougie delivers the opposite of all logical or reasoned thought. For the first half of the movie I was convinced that this kid was a simple satanist with a love for destruction, horror and evil. He does so many horrible things with our serial killer (they use a shopping cart and run over a pregnant woman, a baby in a stroller and finally finally a blind man) and yet during the final half of the movie we are supposed to be convinced that he simply didn’t realize the difference between reality and pretend. I’m sorry, most kids at this age shouldn’t be so horribly confused about the worlds of reality and fiction!
Well, you really can’t blame the kid I suppose. Who lets their child actually play a video game entitled “Satan’s Little Helper” (which is obviously a piece of Flash animation, by the way)? Not only that, who lets their child become so obsessed with the father of all lies? This can’t be considered healthy in any home! Everything the boy says or does is somehow related to the devil and after more than a few minutes of it you can’t help but find yourself sucked out of the movie more and more. This just does NOT feel like reality. Going back to the bad parenting however, I must ask: what was Amanda Plummer thinking with this role? She went from making films with Terry Gilliam and Quentin Tarantino, to this? I realize we all have to eat, but lines have to be drawn in the sand at some point. Although Plummer is actually good in her role, as are a few of the other key actors, the logic of this movie simply perplexes me entirely. I realize that it is supposed to be a horror-comedy of sorts (according to everyone else), but it never dares approach having anything that resembles atmosphere or horror. A very long stretch of the movie is shot entirely during the day time and when darkness does finally fall, most shots feature an exorbitant amount of lighting so that we can never at any point feel any sense of gothic tension. Jeff Lieberman has shown in the past that he can at least get the basic rules of a horror movie down (he directed Squirm), so I have to imagine this lack of style comes from budgetary restrictions or creative differences on set.
I have to admit, the gentleman who played “Satan” actually does do a good job. He delivers the majority of all intentional laughs and manages to do a lot in a role that doesn’t feature any dialogue. His hand gestures and body movement delivers the most clever aspects of the movie. I know I’ve talked a lot of smack at this point, but while it is poorly made, the movie does entertain. There isn’t much gore, but the best moments of the movie come from the rather silly pieces of dialogue and the completely idiotic behavior of everyone involved. Some standout moments involved Satan kicking in the door of an old woman’s home in a similar style to Black Dynamite. Every single person at a party recognizing Satan as “The Devil”, despite the fact that his costume does not resemble the general consensus of what most people assume the devil even looks like. A scene featuring human intestines that look a lot like fruit roll ups. I also really like the fact that Satan is apparently an escaped arsonist, but his ability to kill using his bare hands at will makes him seem more like a Navy Seal than someone who has been in jail for a crime that could actually be non-violent. I can probably keep doing this all day, but I’m sure you get the point. We’re not dealing with a brilliant piece of cinema by any means.