By David Weiner
WHAT’S THE DEAL: A deadly interstellar bringer of doom is accidentally unearthed — and then intentionally “pwned” — by a little girl and her brother in this clever and at-times hilarious deconstructive send-up of the Sci-Fi/horror genre.
WHY SEE IT: Simply put, we need to support more wonderfully wacky films like this indie Canadian production, written and directed by Steven Kostanski (who also helmed the memorable film trip THE VOID). Enjoyably channeling an ’80s/early ’90s cinematic vibe, the tried-and-true wish-fulfillment concept of having your own otherworldly pet (a la GREMLINS, E.T. or LITTLE MONSTERS) is blown to bits with this acerbic mash-up of imperious Sci-Fi intrigue, cool creature costumes, and sophomoric humor.
Imagine being a snotty little kid and stumbling upon a magic glowing amulet that allows you to fearlessly control your own alien overlord bent on unleashing cenobite-style misery and galactic genocide. What we get with this premise is a disarmingly goofy, neighborhood-bound adventure led by the bratty Mimi and her hapless brother-with-a-conscience Luke (Nita-Josee Hanna and Owen Myre), who parade their new pet (who they affectionately name Psycho Goreman, or “PG” for short) around town and remain entertainingly disinterested in the destruction, death and mutilation left in his wake as a result of their childish antics. When PG’s intergalactic foes come to earth to challenge the evil overlord, the kids don’t miss a beat; it all seems to be par for the course for them. And the snappy dialogue makes it all the more fun.
Just when you think you know where PSYCHO GOREMAN is going, the film gets more and more outrageous as the gore-factor gets turned up to 11 and more alien adversaries jump into the mix. These oddball aliens are wonderfully designed and refreshingly present in the same space as the actors; there’s very little CG here (save for a few of the gorier beheadings/mutilation moments and alien-world setups), only top-notch creature makeup and carefully fabricated costumes packed with thought and detail.
What makes the film such a joyride is that it pulls no punches. It’s all a fever-dream tale that captures the happy-go-lucky lunacy of childhood imagination, from the fun of made-up games with complicated rules to the capricious sibling/parental relationships we’ve all experienced.
THE FLICK FLACK: As the plot moves along, the high-concept premise gets stretched a bit thin, with the film’s irreverent tone at times backfiring on third-act attempts to switch the mood to tender, emotional and sincere. But given the outrageous premise, it’s easy to suspend disbelief with the dysfunctional family dynamics and simply enjoy the silliness of it all.
NOTABLE NOTES: When he’s not making insane films, writer/director Steven Kostanski has a day job doing prosthetic FX for film and television, with work on projects ranging from IT, CRIMSON PEAK and SUICIDE SQUAD to HANNIBAL and STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
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