Satan’s Little Helper is a mean little film that makes up—mostly—for a clearly low budget with a clever premise and never-too-serious tone. However, given that it was written and directed by Jeff Lieberman, the man responsible for Just Before dawn, one of my favorite Slashers of all time, I was a tad disappointed.
The film follows Dougie, a fatally gullible 8-year-old obsessed with a video game titled Satan’s Little Helper. In the game, the player takes on the Helper role, a tiny red devil, as he assists Satan in a bloody killing spree. With Halloween fast approaching, Dougie dresses as the Helper and soon sets out in search of his Master, Satan.
Dougie comes across a man dressed in a long black coat and—yup—a devil mask. As Dougie watches, the man drags a dead body from within a house and positions the corpse on a bench, next to a stuffed dummy. Overjoyed, Dougie pledges his loyalty to what we soon realize is a serial killer. See, Dougie has a mission for the murderous Satan: kill his sister Jenna’s new boyfriend, Alex. Dougie is a jealous brother and wants Jenna all to himself. Satan agrees and the partnership is formed.
What follows is an often funny sequence of events that draws both tension and chuckles from an initially satisfying but increasingly implausible case of mistaken identity, and the fact that, on Halloween, a serial murderer can operate in broad daylight without raising an eyebrow (and even have his latest kill admired by a soccer mom and her brood).
For a low-budget affair, Satan’s Little Helper looks pretty good, though it fares better in darkness than in sunlight. Its colors are slightly oversaturated, emphasizing the almost cartoonish situation of a kid making friends with a killer, but some scenes, such as Satan’s seduction of Jenna, could’ve been more effective if shot in a darker, grittier palette. The film is also a tad overlong and could’ve done with a more consistent score to set the tone. Music comes in once in awhile, but there’re long stretches in which only dialogue and foley provide any sound.
Overall, though, this is a good, creative effort that falls short of great, but, if you’re into indie horror, it should prove well-worth your time.
Length: 96 min