Psycho Goreman

*****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Psycho Goreman
"Brilliantly written and constructed."

Once, long ago, an evil galactic conqueror known as the Archduke of Nightmares was struck down by an alliance of heroes who hoped to end his reign of terror forever. Buried on a far off world, it seemed that he had finally been defeated. Life was evolving on that world, however, and millions of years later his grave would become the back garden in which young Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and her brother Luke (Owen Myre) play complicated ball games. When they dig a hole and unearth this monstrous being, the galaxy seems doomed - but Mimi finds the jewel that lets her command him, and sets out to have some fun.

Psycho Goreman is not a film made to suit all tastes, but it's brilliantly written and constructed, and if it hits the spot for you, very few films will be able to compete. This is not another tedious spoof. It's a smart piece of cinema which knows exactly what it's doing and judges it to perfection.

The first thing that the premise will bring to mind for most genre fans is John Connor in T2: Judgment Day declaring "Cool. My own terminator!" Mimi's ambitions, however, extend a little further that getting her new toy to stand on one leg. Naming him Psycho Goreman (PG for short), she uses him to enforce her will in every area of life. There are two ways this can go. Either PG will succeed in getting the jewel back from her, in which case he will wreak a terrible vengeance beginning with the torture of her and her family and the destruction of the Earth, or he won't succeed in getting the jewel back from her, in which case the future of humanity still doesn't look too good.

Complicating all this, however, is the fact that PG's ancient enemies have become aware of his awakening and are preparing to try to destroy him once and for all. As a galactic war brews, Luke meekly tries to reason with his sister, their parents' relationship problems get even worse, and PG gets a few lessons in Earth culture. There are similarities to the plot of E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial, but with more ultraviolence and elaborate dismemberment. The story is simple and rooted in moral lessons, with the charm of a Joe Dante film, but those lessons may not exactly be what you'd want your kids to learn.

Brimming over with ideas, Psycho Goreman features awesome old-style special effects work and a line-up of alien lifeforms which recalls all the best and most ridiculous Doctor Who monsters as well as paying tribute to Seventies fantasy cinema. It's obvious that every character has a rich backstory, and we are treated to a number of passionate expositionary speeches inevitably cut short by Mimi getting bored. Hanna makes an awesome lead, her spirited young heroine less like horror's drably conventional Scary Little Girls than like Josef Stalin trapped in the body of an 11-year-old and seriously pissed off about it. Material like this rarely gets its due, but still, there is something fundamentally wrong with the universe if she does not become a star. Alongside her, Myre also excels in a difficult role, with Luke torn between his love for his sister, his frustration with her pushing him around and his own moral compunction. It's a tough job to keep an audience onside when unable to assert oneself, but Myre achieves it admirably.

There are lots of cute references here for fans to enjoy but they never distract from what matters. Whilst it captures the mood of a low budget Eighties sci-fi epic perfectly, Psycho Goreman is a complete piece of work in itself, doing its own thing, and it's handled with confidence by director Steven Kostanski. From the acting to the sound, lighting, costumes and editing, there is little here that does not deserve a commendation. It's an instant classic.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2021
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After unearthing a gem that controls an evil monster looking to destroy the Universe, a young girl and her brother use it to make him do their bidding.

Director: Steven Kostanski

Writer: Steven Kostanski

Starring: Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Matthew Ninaber, Steven Vlahos, Adam Brooks, Alexis Kara Hancey, Kristen MacCulloch, Anna Tierney, Roxine Latoya Plummer, Alex Chung, Scout Flint

Year: 2020

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Canada

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