Obsessed with his new video game Satan’s Little Helper, where a little boy helps the Satan dispense murderous bloody mayhem, naïve Dougie, sporting his own hot red Satan costume and mask, swears he’ll have a chance to meet Satan himself during Halloween. Who Dougie believes he stumbles upon is the master of darkness but, in reality, the overactive and imaginative adolescent has discovered a deranged, untalkative serial killer in a Satan costume going house-to-house setting up realistic looking gruesome displays as Halloween lawn decorations. Feeling slighted when his college-age sister comes home to Bell Island with a new boyfriend unexpectedly, an upset Dougie wants Satan to kill the boyfriend, but the killer insidiously uses the boy as a pawn and works his way into Dougie’s family home and everyone thinks it’s the new boyfriend masked as Satan to impress and please the difficult child. Set in motion is a flight of wickedness throughout the night on the island town that’s unprepared for the chaos yet to come.
Jeff Lieberman is already something of a cult horror director amongst fans. Having written-and-directed obscure classics “Just Before Dawn,” “Blue Sunshine,” and “Squirm” within 5 years between 1976 and 1981, Lieberman took horror by varietal storm by dipping his toes into different subgenres and doing moderately well at it., establishing a legacy with re-releases of his films into the new millennia. Though quiet for many years in the realm of horror, Lieberman makes a return with 2004’s “Satan Little Helper,” a killer horror-comedy filled with an innate fear of the unknown with what or who is truly behind that devilish mask. Lieberman wrote and directed the feature with a dark and morbid stamp perfect for the Halloween season. If you’re looking for a good Halloween movie, “Satan’s Little Helper” should be on your short list. Set on the fictional location of Bell Island, which is actually Long Island, New York, “Satan’s Little Helper” is a production of Intrinsic Value Films (“The Last Thing Mary Saw”) and the limited liability company under the alteration of the film’s title with Satan’s Little Company and is self-produced by Lieberman as well as Mickey McDonough, Isen Robbins, and Aimee Schoof with Carl Tostevin serving as executive producer. Screen Media Films waived the theatrical rights route by releasing the insta-cult film directly onto the video market.
Gracing prominently most physical releases with a sinister grin is a dialogue-less and faceless principal character, who with every centimeter of his latex teeth and showing a lackadaisical posture as he turns Bell Island upside down as his own massacring playground, is obviously the serial killer, played by Joshua Annex. Annex spin on Satan Man reaps the story’s benefits by creating a mischievous antagonist to the likes we’ve never seen on screen before despite being playing the murderer behind the mask trope. Annex might be playing Satan but the actor is not playing the titular character, or is her? The double entendre can be interpreted in two ways: the masked killer is actually Satan’s helper on Earth or Dougie, the annoyingly naive brat with an unhealthy infatuation with the Lord of Darkness. Played by a then adolescent Alexander Brickel in his debut performance, Dougie’s only kicks the hornet’s nest even more for not only the residents of Bell Island, but also for his family as the young loutish lad invites the killer his family abode under false pretenses and never revels the truth until it’s too late. Brickel is intense in an aggravating Dennis the Menace kind of way, but the act works all too well with the flanking character players who need to feed off of Dougie’s hellion deposition that all stems from wanting to marry his sister. Is there some kind of symbolism or metaphor there? Speaking of the sister, Katheryn Winnick (“Hellraiser: Hellworld,” “Polar”) levels the eccentricity with normal reactionaries as the sister Jenna. Counterbalancing to make sure her normalcies don’t overstay their welcome is the great Amanda Plummer (“Pulp Fiction,” “The Prophecy”) with sublimely odd mother that only Amanda Plummer could pull off and make it feel right. Stephen Gramham, Wass Stevens, Melisa McGregor, and Dan Ziskie round out the cast.
Perfect for the season, perfect as a cult film, perfect to just be for everyday viewing, “Satan’s Little Helper” has been kept in the shadows far too long and needs to be risen from the netherworld for all to bear witness the unsystematic carnage from someone who just wants to see the world burned. The Lieberman film intoxicates with spontaneity as you never know what to expect or happen next. The script is simple, yet smartly contrived to work as a haphazard horror with a foundation foe with no limits, no boundaries, and no motivation. There’s a relief that there’s no supernatural or actual Satanic force driving the plot and, instead, unravels in a prevailing fashion with an accepted and logical fear that the person behind the mask is not always the person you believe wearing it. While Lieberman’s script does a nice job fleshing out a feature length film where the doesn’t have one single word of dialogue, there are moments when suspicions amongst the family would have or should have come a lot sooner and that stretches the reality some, making act two gummy around the midsection when the serial killer is playing the part of Jenna’s boyfriend. Lieberman caveats Jenn and her boyfriend, Alex, as a pair of studious actors and Alex is just immersed in his role as Satan to please Dougie and while that seems very plausible, how long the act maintained its course did not. Eventually, Lieberman became wise to the Satan costume’s stagnancy and moved the character along into another facade of choice that then goes into a guess who game of deception. An aspect of the killer’s intelligence that makes the character uber-clever and that much more deadly.
“Satan’s Little Helper” is one of Synapse Film’s more contemporary releases that doesn’t require a hefty image upgrade but the new 1080p high-definition upgrade and a supplemental bonus features make this new Blu-ray release very attractive. Presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the AVC encoded Blu-ray craves out a resolute image as expected since the modern film is digitally recorded and hasn’t been affected by the wear-and-tear of age and neglect. Perhaps not as glossy as an expensive Hollywood type production with a late 90’s-early 2000s glaze, gel, or filter, “Satan’s Little Helper” keeps a more than adequate showing of details and a medley of colors amongst is more natural cinematography with a handful of night scenes shot in a day under a dark filter. Only one scene of concern stands out on the ferry pier and in what’s supposed to be a close up of Dougie’s dumbfounded face when meeting Jenna’s boyfriend for the first time has somehow turned into a blown up shot that stretches the image fuzzy and masking the delineation. The English language DTS-HD master audio shows no signs of issues with a flawless and lossless sound design. The clean and clear dialogue raises the bar on Dougie’s testy tantrums and cleans out with the ambient effects toward the killer’s actions to compensate for his lack of chit-chat. Optional English subtitles are offered on this release. Bonus features include a commentary with director Jeff Lieberman, an archival behind-the-scenes featurette, The Devil in the Details making-of featurette that goes into cast and crew interviews with Lieberman, Alexander Brickel (now older and with longer hair), director of photography Dejan Georgevich, and special effects artist Anthony Pepe, a tour of the filming locations guided by Lieberman in Mister Satan’s Neighborhood, and the promotional trailer. The physical release comes in the nifty blackout Blu-ray case with a Synapse catalogue insert in case you want to buy their releases via mailed order form. Synapse Film’s “Satan’s Little Helper” new Blu-ray comes home at the most opportune time during this 2022 Halloween season and is sure to be viewed as a delightful deluge of dark comedy carnage and destruction, some of the best attributes of any good horror film.