Raised on a diet of horror movies and motherly love, little Jamie (Jett Klyne) is distraught when mom dies of cancer. Clinging to the VHS tapes of her favourite slasher movies – and Simon, the stuffed toy she gifted to him at Christmas – Jamie is horrified when his stepmother throws it all away. After the argument which follows, stepmom promptly disappears, leaving Jamie convinced that Simon was the one who did it.
Years later, Jamie (all grown up, now Aleks Paunovic) is a high school senior, still struggling with the death of his mother, and Simon’s alleged crimes. Regardless, he decides to face his old demons by heading back to the childhood cabin where it all went down, with his girlfriend (Lisa Durupt) and school chums in tow. With a cabin crammed full of fresh meat, it isn’t long before Simon dusts himself off to continue down his murderous path. But is Jamie’s shabby old muppet really responsible… or is Jamie far more disturbed and deranged than his dim-bulb exterior lets on?
Ah, who are we kidding? It’s the puppet. Like the disconcertingly similar Benny Loves You, this comedy slasher film puts its fluffy menace front and centre, mining comedy from the sight of a Jim Henson reject running amok like Jack Torrance in The Shining. The horror references come thick and fast, employing a whole basement chock full of genre iconography (there’s Freddy’s glove; Jason’s mask). Cult favourites Jen and Sylvia Soska pop up too, plus a cameo from budget scream queen Jessica Cameron.
That’s one of only two jokes up the film’s sleeve – the other being the casting of fifty-odd-year-old Paunovic as Jamie. Unlike the puppet, the sight of a bunch of middle-aged men and women playing high schoolers doesn’t wear thin, and Paunovic carries the weight of a leading role well. It’s frequently funny, even as the rest grates and repeats itself; an uninspired yet amusing slasher take on Wet Hot American Summer.
Puppet Killer is available from digital outlets now.