Sometimes you need a fun horror film to cleanse your mental palette of all of the serious horror movies you’ve been consuming. Whether it’s a nonstop slasher marathon, reality television or the news, once in a while, you need to cleanse the bad and this is where Puppet Killer comes in. Celebrating it’s Toronto premiere at the Blood In The Snow Film Festival, Puppet Killer is made up of too many horror movie references to count, but they are all utilized in a genuinely fun and clever way and not just as a patchwork to distract from an uninspired story. Where Puppet Killer really shines, though, is the actors. The characters may be teenagers, but the cast has long since been to their own ten or twenty year high school reunions and this works in a really quirky way.
Jamie (Aleks Paunovic) is a sweet natured guy who may, or may not, have killed his step mom when he was a child. Or was it his puppet Simon who did the deed? Finding himself in therapy ten yeas later, Jamie still talks about his mom who instilled a love of horror movies in him. As a baby, she gave him a pink puppet named Simon and started watching horror movies with him because watching too many horror movies never hurt anyone. Right?
As Christmas approaches, Jamie and his friends are all going to spend the holiday at his dad’s cabin in the woods. While childhood memories and wounds begin to rise to the surface and every horror film trope comes into play, this group of “kids” just looking to get drunk, high and have sex will soon start being picked off one by one. After finding Simon in the cellar, it all becomes a question of whether it’s Jamie or Simon doing the killing.
An overgrown, bright pink Elmo wannabe, I wouldn’t want to face Simon under any circumstances and as mentioned previously, Jamie isn’t exactly a pocket size teenager: he’s a tall, fit 50 year old who has a great smile and boyish sense of wonder, but again, I wouldn’t want to stare him down in a creepy cabin in the woods. Paunovic is simply a joy to watch and it’s clear that the entire cast had a fun time working together. Director Lisa Ovies takes an already clever script from Kevin Mosley and brings it to life in a truly special way. An alumni of Chicago Second City and owner of her own improv school, Ovies nails the fine line between poking fun and just being mean or ridiculous. The kills are filmed in an artfully indie way with lots of blood and laughs to spare and there is a surprise entrance by two beloved genre actors who have a dead body in the trunk of their car: I’m assuming it’s a hooker, but who am I to judge?
Puppet Killer is a bare bones horror comedy that feels like a million bucks and will cleanse your mind and soul so you can sully it up all over again. Because watching too much horror never hurt anyone.
Played at BITS Festival