puppet killer | lisa ovies | kevin mosley | aleks paunovic | lee majdoub | lisa durupt | puppet | killer toys | canada | richard harmon | gigi saul guerrero | kyle cassie | nightmares film festival | nff | geoff gustafson | beverley elliott | slasher
Film: Puppet Killer
Director: Lisa Ovies
Writer: Kevin Mosley
Starring: Aleks Paunovic, Lee Majdoub and Lisa Durupt
This was a film that I was curious about when I saw the title. I actually kind of met the director earlier in the day, Lisa Ovies, and she was really a ball of energy. I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting into with this film but I was definitely intrigued for the United States premiere for it. The synopsis is while celebrating Christmas at a cabin in the woods, a group of high school students are stalked by a psychotic killer obsessed with horror icons.
We start this with a family as they’ve brought home their first child. They’re going to start a new tradition of watching scary movies on Christmas and she also gives him a puppet that was hers, Simon (voiced by Lee Majdoub). The problem is that the wife passes away from cancer and the father, Robert (Geoff Gustafson), finds a new wife. She’s stern with the young boy and wants to get rid of his horror VHS and posters. Robert tells her it is probably time to go and something happens where she is murdered.
It then shifts to today. The son is Jamie (Aleks Paunovic) and he’s dating Jessie (Lisa Durupt). At school he hangs out with Curtis (Majdoub) as well as Lee (Kyle Cassie). He has a new girlfriend Brooke (Gigi Saul Guerrero). This group is going to go to the cabin that Jamie’s family has. No one has been there since his stepmother disappeared. Jamie is in therapy to deal with his trauma and the therapist is concerned that horror movies have warped him.
Also joining them on the trip is Curtis’ little brother, Rick (Richard Harmon). They head up to the cabin and party. Things take a turn when they find Simon the puppet in the basement. Jamie starts to think that Simon is moving around on his own and when Rick disappears, we see that this puppet might be alive. Is that the case? Or is Jamie really lost it and actually behind what is going on?
Now I wanted to go a little bit vague here with my recap as this is still making its festival rounds. I will say this is another horror comedy that knows what it is doing and is a love letter to the genre. The kills that are done in the film pay homage to Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween to just name a few. I can respect that for sure.
To be honest, this film is actually pretty hilarious as well. It is poking fun that actors and actresses are playing characters much younger than their real age as all of the leads clearly are not high school students. The dialogue and things that they do though are funny to see these adults are doing. On top of that, trying to see Jamie pretend that he found his beloved puppet and trying to convince his friends that it is behind what is happening cracked me up. It is confirmed about halfway through who is actually doing the killings and it is quite outrageous, but has a good back-story of why it is happening.
Ovies was in attendance as I said and she really does another good job at paying homage to the Vancouver area where she is from. She casted another horror director whose a woman in Guerrero as one of her actresses and there’s a duo of directors that also have a cameo. She pointed out doing this since there are claims that women horror directors are in competition and she wants to dispel that. I thought that was quite interesting for sure.
That will take me to the pacing of this film. I don’t know the exact running time, but its around 90 minutes or less which is perfect. It does a good job at establishing the history and then introducing the characters. Being that the main character is into horror makes me smile and it doesn’t take long for the kills to start. The homage to horror films before it is great and I even like the ending, even if we get the horror troupe to leave it open for a sequel.
I’ll shift next to the acting, which being that this is a comedy is a bit over the top. I think that it works though as it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. It makes it even funnier to see these characters who are clearly older playing high school students. Paunovic was solid as the lead, especially trying to convince us what he thinks is happening. I have to give props to Majdoub for his hilarious character and doing the voice of Simon, he’s probably the real MVP here. Durupt and Guerrero are both attractive and talented. Cassie, Harmon and Gustafson round it out for what was needed as well. I won’t reveal who the cameo here is, but they’re definitely two people I adore and I love the reference to their work.
That takes me to the effects, which are actually kind of tough. They do great at bringing Simon to life in a way that we think he could be alive or that it is possible that he is being controlled. Regardless it doesn’t look easy. They definitely seemed to go practical from what I could tell which is impressive. If there was any CGI, I couldn’t tell and that’s good use of it if that’s the case. Going back to the puppet, this is shot very well if you can hide that someone needs to control it and I didn’t see that person once along with the rest of it for sure.
Now with that said, this film is a lot of fun and another one that you just have to come in to enjoy. The reveal of who the killer is outrageous and hilarious. I love the horror references that are throughout this one as well. There’s actually some really good writing that is paired with it for sure. It is paced in a way where I never got bored, but I will admit, it doesn’t really build as much tension as I would like due to the comedy aspects. The ending worked for me though. I thought the acting was over the top and par for the course, the effects are impressive in that they can make the puppet move without us seeing and the practical effects on top of that. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt it either. I would definitely say this is a fun film, especially for horror fans. Overall I’d say this is above average in my opinion.
My Rating: 7 out of 10