Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Satan's Little Helper (2004)

Let me tell you about a terrible way to choose a movie on Netflix: Step 1) Open the ‘horror’ section. Step 2) Continually scroll until you have loaded every possible option. Step 3) Wildly scroll up and down the list and land on one at random. In using this selection method, you run the risk of having to watch Satan’s Little Helper.

I wanted to do a Netflix good-or-garbage review, but there are just so many possible choices on Netflix that I completely psyched myself out and decided to pick at random. I deserved what I got for such indecision, but I do regret that I kind of forced Rob to watch it with me.

The entire plot of Satan’s Little Helper is predicated on the notion that on Halloween, everyone becomes incapable of believing that anything is actually wrong, instead assuming that all bad acts are just part of some larger performance art of the holiday. A man dressed as Satan is arranging a corpse on a porch swing in broad daylight? Now he’s hanging a FULLY ALIVE elderly woman with a noose in front of her house? Oh, your friend who is a middle-aged adult woman comes to a Halloween party visibly upset and taped from mouth to hips with packing tape, mummy-style? Well, it IS Halloween so…I’m sure that’s fine. Nothing to see here. 

I’d like to try to sum up the plot in fewer than 250 words because that’s really all I can muster for this particular piece of art: there’s this shitty little kid named Dougie who is obsessed with a video game called “Satan’s Little Helper” (which features graphics whose quality rival those of this blog) wherein you kill people and dogs, I guess, to score points. He plays this on a generic handheld gaming system.

Dougie has a crush on his hot sister but is pissed to find out that she has a boyfriend—who, by the way, has serious daddy issues—and rebels by befriending a silent man in a Goatman-type of costume who is arranging a corpse on a front porch in broad daylight as described above, believing him to be the Satan of the game. Apparently this means that GameSatan has the ability to kill people without consequence. After all, it’s just a game. This last bit requires an extreme stretch of the imagination because we are never told that Dougie has any sort of mental problems that would actually allow him to believe this. The kid’s dumb, but come on. For nearly half the movie, the sister Jenna believes Satan to be her boyfriend Alex in costume, which makes total sense because Satan has about 6 inches and 80 pounds on Alex. Seems legit. There are five total cops in this film and Satan kills them all, then chaos reigns supreme. I think it may be an indictment of a video game violence-obsessed culture but truly I can't be sure. It was extremely stupid. 

242 words…not bad!

I did some research on this movie after watching it, and was surprised to see a number of positive reviews. People thought it was really funny and original. I am here to tell you that those people are wrong. I can get down with horror comedy, but I think my issue with Satan’s Little Helper was that at no point did I laugh (except perhaps the awkwardly delivered line, “and Jesus is Satan!”) because I was just kind of dumbfounded. I basically spent all 90 minutes like this:

Am I missing something? Am I not fun? I guess I just don’t feel that stupid always reads as funny and maybe that’s my loss. Anyway, this movie weirdly stars people you might know from other things: Amanda Plummer, who has been in a number of things including Pulp Fiction, The Fisher King and So I Married an Axe Murderer (one of Rob’s personal favorites) and Katheryn Winnick, whom I think is actually pretty great on the History Channel series “Vikings”. None of them are particularly good in this. Is that part of the joke? People on the internet seem to think so. 

I’m not saying that Satan’s Little Helper was without its moments: the house number of this family of big dumb stupids is 66, and upon entering the house with Dougie, Satan casually spray paints a third 6 on the doorjamb.

Satan does not speak a single line throughout the entire movie and communicates solely in gestures and boob-grabs (lots of boob-grabs). He gives a number of other characters in the downtown area the finger, which I guess is sort of funny in its stupidity…right? I guess? It’s okay. It's decent.

All in all, I just could not get behind this one. At one point Rob asked me for clarification on a plot point that he missed, and I realized that I’d missed it too because I’d just been staring at some pretzels. If I can’t even focus for 90 minutes on a movie in which a serial killer dresses as Satan on Halloween and murders a bunch of people—a pretty great concept!—then how can I ever recommend it to you? 

In the question of Netflix good or garbage, this one is basically recycling. You want better things for it, but you know you still have to put it out at the curb.

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