The Puppetman (2023) Movie Review - Another Dull Shudder Original

Horror, Thriller | 93 Min
Cover from Shudder original horror movie The Puppetman (2023)
  • Director: Brandon Christensen
  • Actors: Alyson Gorske, Angel Prater, Kio Cyr
  • Writers: Brandon Christensen, Ryan Christensen, Matt Manjourides
  • Producers: Justin A. Martell, Matt Manjourides
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Language, Self Harm
  • Horror, Thriller | 93 Min

The Puppeteer a convicted murderer on death row has always maintained his innocence claiming that it was an evil force that controlled his body as he slaughtered his victims.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing 2023 Shudder Original horror movie The Puppetman. Directed by Superhost director . The Puppetman continues Christensen’s 7 year run of directorial mediocrity. I think it is probably fair to say that we know what to expect when we see his name attached to a production and The Puppetman fits the bill perfectly.

Michal’s (Alyson Gorske) father has always insisted that some unknown forced compelled him to murder his wife. Though Michal has never believed him, she begins to have something of a change of heart after she too begins experiencing strange goings on. Working together with a group of friends, she aims to get to the bottom of the mystery and discover what it is that is cursing her family.

So Middle of the Road

The Puppetman is just an extremely generic horror, thriller movie with very little to say about it. The concept itself isn’t entirely bad. The story of a person being controlled by an external force and made to kill people isn’t unique but it is still fairly interesting. It’s the execution that lets the story down. 

Screenshot from Shudder original horror movie The Puppetman (2023)

Just like Christensen’s others films, The Puppetman is extremely formulaic, unsurprising and very dull. Christensen goes to the well of horror cliché repeatedly and greedily. The movie is awash with trope after trope. Tension and suspense are minimal and the film approaches levels of predictability that you actually don’t see that often in horror. A point that is made all the more significant by just how predictable horror can be.

Painfully Predictable

This is one of those movies that will have you and your friends calling out what will happen way before it does and you will be dead right. Even the final scene of the movie will make your toes curl for how projected and obvious it is. My fiancée called out exactly what would happen and then physically winced and groaned when it did.

Much like the aforementioned Superhost, the vast majority of the film just trundles along at an inconsiderate, lazy, pace. Never offering much reason to engage and never trying to be anything other than horror by numbers. Unlike Superhost, however, there are no fantastic actors like Gracie Gillam to keep you invested. Acting here is extremely bottom of the barrel. It reminded me a lot of 2019’s Black Christmas for how cliched the characters were.

Screenshot from Shudder original horror movie The Puppetman (2023)

The actors have minimal chemistry and literally zero character development to work with. A poor script only compounds these issues. Something that is probably not that surprising considering three writers have their fingers in the butthole of this movie. Combine that with some bizarre casting choices and you have some seriously annoying scenes with some seriously awkward dialogue.

How many times are we going to see the 5′ 6″ dude, who is probably 130lbs soaking wet, referred to as “juiced up” and “muscular” by strangers? Cast a dude with some muscle, at least! If the other characters are supposed to think our main girl is weird and a bit of an outsider, don’t cast an attractive blonde chick. If you are making a movie about a group of young college friends. Maybe try casting actors who don’t look like they are kicking 30’s door down.

Slow Paced and Not Scary

The Puppetman crawls in at a laborious 93 minutes. Much of that is scene setting and slow paced moments of exposition. Scares are infrequent, repetitive, and fairly ineffective. Seeing characters possessed can be a cringe worthy experience. Actors are forced into a theatrical performance of “stop hitting yourself” to reflect the fact that they are not willingly performing the actions. Making for some scenes that are actually comical rather than tragic or affecting.

Screenshot from Shudder original horror movie The Puppetman (2023)

On the plus side, this is one of those movies that less demanding horror fans may actually enjoy. It doesn’t ask too much and features much of what has become popular in horror over recent years. Possession, occult rituals, near 30 year olds pretending to be teens. It’s all there and this may serve as a pretty effective sleep over horror or time filler if you are just looking for something mindless. The story is, at least, slightly different from most recent horror and some of the kills are fairly interesting.

Should You Watch The Puppetman?

Whether you should watch The Puppetman depends on what you want from the movie. If you are looking for generic horror by numbers that takes no risks and demands little from the viewer. Give it a go. If you are looking for a horror movie that surprises you, makes you think, or has a whole bunch of new ideas. You won’t find it here so give it a miss. It’s a decent enough sleep over horror but little else.

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