Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: “The Puppetman” is a convicted killer on death row who always maintained his innocence and claimed that it was an evil force controlling his body as he slaughtered his victims.
Review: It’s difficult to make an old idea feel new again but I would argue director Brandon Christensen does a better-than-average job of it with his twisted take on possession in The Puppetman.
Reminiscent of the Denzel Washington starring vehicle Fallen, this particular entity and the mystery surrounding it centers on a young woman named Michal (Alyson Gorske) whose father murdered her mother when she was a child. It’s also revealed she was kept locked up in small room for most of her young life, only being rescued after the gruesome killing. Now a college student, Micah is a shy, withdrawn person whose only friend Charlie (Angel Prater) is a bit too invested in her past and takes to recording Michal as she sleepwalks. When Michal discovers Charlie’s true motivations for doing this her anger gets the better of her and triggers something inside her, unleashing death and destruction to anyone unlucky enough to get in the way of The Puppetman.
There are so many possession movies released each year it can be hard to keep up or even tell them apart. This year alone we got The Pope’s Exorcist (stupid fun) Evil Dead Rise (wicked fun) Haunted Mansion (family fun) and The Exorcist: Believer (no fun at all). As different as they were, all of these movies handle the concept of possession in very similar ways, which is why I found The Puppetman to be so intriguing.
Heading into SPOILER territory here, Michal is possessed but unlike most movies where she would be the one maiming and killing others directly, the entity here uses Michal as a vessel to control others, making them do horrific things (usually to themselves) in order to keep its secrets unknown. Not only is this a demon that doesn’t want to be noticed, but it’s also one that turns its vessel into an evil version of Professor X!
While the kills are quite gruesome and visceral, especially when they use practical effects over CGI, the story itself is a bit lacking in substance. I didn’t mind the time it took to build up to the first kill but once that starts there’s never really a sense of tension to any of it. Michal is just trying to figure out what is causing her to have the ability to “puppet” others and if her father was telling the truth about what happened the night her mother died. With her father on death row, you would think there was a “ticking clock” element here that would add real tension as the story unfolded, but it never does, and this only gets worse when we learn everything.
It’s a shame really because actress Alyson Gorske really does a wonderful job of making you sympathise with her. While the other actors are fine in their roles, it’s Gorske who carries the movie and keeps you invested in the outcome. I just wished she had meatier material to work with.
The Puppetman had the potential to be really good, but a lacklustre story stops this genuinely refreshing take on possession from being on the list of this year’s most talked about genre entries such as Talk to Me and Evil Dead Rise. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind another go around with The Puppetman, if only to see what wickedly ingenious methods of murder he comes up with next.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More