Hey ghosts and ghouls! I’m back again with another short film review. This was a short and sweet 10 minute film, but BOY did it pack a punch.
THE PUPPET MAN is a nod to 80s horror films and it shows, with a naive group heading to the bar for some drinks well after the bar’s closing time. When the creepy bartender tells them they’re closed, they should have taken the hint. They should have REALLY taken the hint when the bartender tells them he’s locking up so no one gets killed by the Puppet Man. There is also a creepy jukebox that has the killer’s theme song in it. Did they not learn anything from SINISTER 2 and the boogeyman song?!
Of course there’s one in the group that’s smarter than the rest and tries to convince them that maybe this isn’t the best idea and they should get going, but of course, she’s the odd one out and overruled by the group. Doesn’t work out well, I can tell you that much.
Like I said, this short is a really fun nod to 80s horror, ESPECIALLY because JOHN CARPENTER HIMSELF makes an appearance as a taxi driver! How cool is that?!?!?!
The visuals are awesome, between the costumes, the glitter, the lighting, and the seedy bar that’s decorated like it’s straight out of 1986. Director Jacqueline Castel clearly has seen some awesome 80s horror because this is really a treat to watch.
The supernatural killer is never shown, which is always appreciated because it’s nice to be able to come up with an idea of what a villain like that would look like on your own terms. It’s a cool way to portray a killer when it comes to horror, because with so many 80s films having such prominent antagonists (i.e. Freddy, Jason, Michael…), it’s fun to be able to come up with your own. Especially when they wear a cool cowboy hat.
Now of course there are the quintessential horror characters: the seedy bartender, the “smart girl”, a bimbo hitting on the bartender in front of her boyfriend, her drunk ass boyfriend, and a relatively smart guy that is “smart girl”‘s boyfriend but goes along with what his drunk ass friend wants.
This short could genuinely be turned into a feature-length if someone wanted to because there could be a really awesome backstory behind this Puppet Man, and since we never see his face, anything is possible. The group is perfect and everyone plays their parts well. My only grip is I wish that it was longer! I wish we had more time to meet the characters and learn about them and learn to, well quite frankly, give a shit about who they are, but I guess since it’s a short you’re never really able to get that satisfaction. What it comes down to is most short films make me feel incomplete, but the handful I’ve watched have really impressed me lately.
Between THE PUPPET MAN, DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT, and G-4, these three shorts have really changed my mind about what a short film is and what is means to the film industry. It’s a chance for the viewer to develop their OWN story, making it more interesting for them to watch and to think about once the credits roll. But I think THE PUPPET MAN is going to have a special place in my heart, since it’s so near to the stories of a handful of films that absolutely changed the horror industry.
Listen, take my advice, if you’re going to go to a seedy bar, if the bartender says he needs to lock up, you should really get the hell out of there. Okay? Okay.