Shudder Original The Puppetman pulls the right strings

The Puppetman - Courtesy Shudder
The Puppetman - Courtesy Shudder /

If you like your horror dark and grim, The Puppetman on Shudder is a must-watch this Halloween season. It was written and directed by Brandon Christensen, who also brought us Z, Superhost and Still/Born.

So far, my favorite Christensen film has been Superhost, which included a lot of pitch black humor – that’s not what we get from The Puppetman. There is very little humor in this dark horror film, and that’s ok.

The opening scene establishes right away that this is 100% a horror film, as we see David approach his wife in the kitchen and stab her to death. As we soon find out, he is now in prison awaiting execution by lethal injection, and has always claimed that he did not commit the murder of his own free will.

The couple’s little girl Michal was found locked in a closet, and she is now old enough to be in college. She is also old enough to be affected by the news coverage regarding her father’s upcoming execution, and actor Alyson Gorske perfectly portrays Michal’s stress and internal conflict.

The Puppetman
Puppet Man – Photo Credit: Shudder /

The Puppetman takes us into the dark depths of Michal’s trauma

As her roommate Charlie has discovered, that stress is playing itself out in a couple of disturbing ways, causing Michal to sleep walk and to scratch her arm enough to make it bleed. When Michal tells Charlie about her family history, she makes her swear not to tell anyone.

You see where this is headed, right? Naturally, Charlie tells her boyfriend and a couple of her and Michal’s closest friends all about it. She also does something else that more or less renders her a not-so-good friend, and that’s when things start to spin out of control in a very dangerous way.

The friends start their own investigation into what exactly is going on with the help of a psychic, and end up embroiled in a demonic cult situation.

The Puppetman is sort of a mashup of Talk to Me, Last Shift and Final Destination, with some pretty good (and inventive) kill scenes and an engrossing storyline that keeps us guessing up until the end. It’s well cast, well written and directed, and it’s a great Halloween season watch.