The title is juvenile, but that’s the whole point of this monster comedy from former Winnipegger Steven Kostanski.
With monsters created out of good old-fashioned latex appliances (instead of CG), the film is a deliberate throwback to the ‘80s and ‘90s, specifically the direct-to-video junk that Kostanski paid tribute in his 2011 homage Manborg.
The characters Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and her doormat older brother Luke (Owen Myre) are likewise callbacks to the days when kid characters could be obnoxious. (Think The Monster Squad, The Goonies, and a host of others.)
In the film, it is the aggressively terrible Mimi who gets the ball rolling when she uncovers a glowing amulet in the back yard. The orb is the power source of the titular warrior (Matthew Ninaber) who, like the genie from the lamp, is obliged to do Mimi’s bidding, a state of affairs that delights the naturally domineering girl, accustomed to shouting out orders to her mysteriously acquiescent brother.
Mimi dubs the intergalactic assassin “Psycho Goreman,” or “PG” for short. His servitude does not sit well, and he is always given to making threats familiar to anyone who has enjoyed a movie about intergalactic assassins: “You will suffer an eternity for this.” “This reminds me of an ancient torture technique I learned from the Worms of Janus.”
Scripted by Kostanski, the movie is wonderfully quotable that way. It is also of a piece with Kostanski’s work in the films from Astron-6, a Winnipeg film collective that simultaneously mocked and replicated genre tropes with devastating accuracy in films such as The Editor and Father’s Day.
That said, it feels a little more uncomfortable than the usual Astron-6 pastiche. This is undoubtedly because that has generally been an adult domain. We’re accustomed to seeing Astron’s cast of dunderheads fall victim to horrible, gory fates. (Astron’s Adam Brooks is hilarious as the kids’ dangerously laissez-faire dad.) With kids in the mix, the danger is somehow off-putting, as is Mimi’s non-stop abrasiveness. (She reminds one how unlikable those ‘80s movie kids were as well.)
Kostanski’s subversive ploy here was to make a gory, R-rated movie that kids would enjoy on the sly, in the same way Kostanski enjoyed films such as Terminator 2 or RoboCop beyond the auspices of parental supervision.
Perhaps he went too far in that the kid characters are a little too unlikable (not to say irredeemable).
The film’s overarching cynicism is perfectly fun for adults. But it’s that, not the gore, that might make it inappropriate for kids.