Road Rash Reviews

The Puppetman (Shudder) Review***--

Cert 18 | 96 mins | 2023

3 star gory and unnerving supernatural thriller.

The Puppetman is a 2023 American horror film with a screenplay by Ryan Christensen and Matt Manjourides (The Last Drive-In with Joe Briggs) alongside Brandon Christensen (Z, Superhost) who also directs.

It is a Shudder Original, available on the steaming platform from Friday 13th October 2023.

“When he was being questioned, he just had one answer and all he said was ‘It wasn’t me.'”

As the film opens we see a woman cooking a meal as her husband David (Zachary Le Vey – Middleground) enters the kitchen, grabs a knife and stabs her, all the time trying to tell her to run and insisting it isn’t him. Their  daughter Michal (Natalie Meetze) watches from a cage in a closet. He is arrested and charged with murder, but always maintains that he wasn’t in charge of his body at the time, earning himself the nickname The Puppetman.

Many years later, and the daughter Michal (Alyson Gorske – Jungle Run, Meteor Moon) has now left the foster care system and is at college trying to lead a normal life. This isn’t aided by the barrage of news reports regarding The Puppetman’s impending execution by lethal injection. Her roommate Charlie (Angel Prater – The Engagement Dress) is fascinated by it, even trying to convince her to go and see him, but she just wants to move on with her life.

She has good friends around her, including Jo (Anna Telfer – Tomorrow), Glenn (Cameron Wong) and her boyfriend Danny (Kio Cyr – Give Me An A), but as things begin to unravel and they enlist the help of psychic Ruby (Caryn Richman – Among the Willows), it looks as though her past may be coming back to haunt her.

“We all have baggage. That’s why we’re even here, to cut the strings. We’re on our own now. This is our world and our control. You’re a survivor, man.”

The Puppetman is an entertaining watch, and a decent solid horror. Following the gruesome opening sequence, some patience is required to get to the next horror element, but it’s worth the wait for two brutal and memorable deaths.

The first hour or so of the film concentrates on Michal’s grief and trauma and the ways in which she tries to work through that with her friends, and plays out as more of a coming-of-age film. The latter part picks up with the introduction of an evil ‘other’, however without any coherent back story, the impact of this is somewhat lost.

All in all it’s a good film, with pretty good acting, crisp and modern style and just a little more attention to the script might have improved it considerably. Certainly worth a watch.

“It isn’t your fault, what happened to your Mom. What happened to Charlie, that is not your fault. We’re all here for some closure, yes? Why shouldn’t we be?”

Puppet Man – Photo Credit: Shudder

The Puppetman is streaming on Shudder from 13th October 2023.

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DirectorBrandon Christensen
StarringAlyson Gorske, Angel Prater, Kio Cyr, Cameron Wong, Caryn Richman
Category: Review