The best way to describe Puppet Killer, the feature debut from actor-director Lisa Ovies, is to simply “just go with it.” Similar to how Snakes on a Plane announced itself in its cheekily blunt title, the viewer should know what to expect here. As a result, one’s enjoyment of this horror comedy will depend on one’s willingness to accept the gleeful absurdity on display.
Filled visual gags and one-liners that reference everything from Child’s Play to Friday the 13th to A Nightmare on Elm St., the film will surely entertain those well-versed in horror. The premise alone reads like a greatest hits of genre tropes.
When Jamie (Aleks Paunovic) was a child he spent hours watching horror films with his mother Susan (Ovies) and Simon, a puppet that his mother passed down to him. Though his father, Robert (Geoff Gustafson), felt Jamie was far too young to see such gruesome films, he let his son continue the tradition with Simon long after Susan passed away. A decision that proved to be a point of contention with Robert’s new wife Janet (Johannah Newmarch).
A decade later Jamie is now a “teenage”, a term Ovies’ film uses loosely, and his friends plan to celebrate Christmas at his father’s old cabin in the woods. Having not visited the isolated cabin since his stepmother mysteriously disappeared, the teens’ plans for a weekend of drunken debauchery take an unexpected turn when Simon is discovered within an old box in the basement.
As one can expect, things quickly go south as the body count begins to rise. What makes this outlandish film work is the performances by the ensemble cast, which includes a deliciously dark cameo by the filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska. Delivering the right mixture of horror and camp, the performances provide Ovies with room to skew everything from masculinity in genre films to the myth that scary movies will damage children. Puppet Killer is not for everyone, but those willing to go with it will find much to enjoy.