Satan’s little helper is a relatively new (2004 ) film that takes place on Halloween and looks to combine its own brand of irreverence and humor while working within the vague confines of a slasher picture. The only problem is that it jumps around from idea to idea so much that the narrative becomes so muddled and disjointed the film is barely watchable a majority of the time. Satan (who may actually be Satan or just a ruthless serial killer in disguise) is befriended by a young naive boy who is under the impression that his addictive video game, aptly titled Satan’s Little Helper, is something of a tutorial for how he should behave on Halloween. Instead of going down the obvious path of a troubled and properly bullied young boy who uses his new monstrous friend to exact revenge, we get an hour and a half of scenes that all seem like they are ripped out of different movies with each of them just as out of place and incomprehensible as the last. For all its tragic flaws, the spirit of the season and moments of pleasure do rise to the surface at times, but it feels more like an accident when this happens, instead of an intentional result.
Besides the plodding, meandering pace that drags everything about Satan’s Little Helper down, the acting is probably the number one culprit when pointing the finger of blame as to why this movie is, at times, completely insufferable. Dougie, the little kid around which the story revolves is painfully annoying, and not in that charming, youthful way that countless other movies had gotten away with. His big sister is also way to uneven and over the top and barely serves the basic of purpose of being the “attractive girl” in the movie. The mother of those two children is just about the only one in the movie I didn’t want to see get run over by a truck, but that was more by default than anything. Satan (see below) doesn’t speak at all, and his mime-like moves are novel at first, but quickly become just as awkward and played out as almost everything else the movie offers up by the 45 minute mark. From a production standpoint, the film is more than serviceable with nice lighting and video quality, but that seems like a moot point when you factor in how little it does to elevate the watch-ability of this turdburger. It is strange at times, and delightfully so, but just making a movie to be weird isn’t enough unless it has a traditional or time-tested narrative backbone to prop it up once the gimmicks wear off. The villain is creepy enough, but seeing as how the highlights of any good slasher-esque film should be the eventual deaths, it is shocking to find that there are only something like 2 or 3 on screen deaths, and all of them are absolutely abysmal in quality, creativity, and execution. I’m ok with some off screen and implied slayings, but when you do finally pull the trigger on showing us a murder, it should at least be mildly impressive, even if you have to copy the idea from another flick.
It’s a shame that I decided to re-watch this film before I reviewed, because that is truly 95 minutes of my life I will never get back. I have certainly seen worse films, and I reiterate the fact that there are moments where it all comes together for Satan’s Little helper and you see what could have been, but those moments are so few and far between that most won’t get to see them because they will be switching dvds to another, better film. It doesn’t feel amateurish, or overly self-indulgent and self-important. It just feels like a bad film that isn’t quite bad enough to be fun on a “this is so shitty it’s genius” level and it absolutely isn’t good enough to be recommendable to anyone but the bravest souls who want to say they have seen it all when it comes to Halloween framed pictures. There just aren’t enough tricks up Satan’s sleeve to make this a treat, and there are times where I’d rather be biting into an apple with a razor blade in it instead of sitting through the second and third acts. You’ve been warned.