THE PUPPETMAN on Shudder is a new horror movie that feels strangely familiar and wonderfully fresh. A good combination for an entertaining movie. It loses momentum at one point, but it is still worth checking out. Read our full The Puppetman movie review here!

THE PUPPETMAN is a new Shudder Original horror movie and one that you’ll definitely want to check out. Horror fans will recognize the name of the director and this alone should be enough reason to want to check it out on Shudder.

The story of why people lose control of their free will is not entirely unfamiliar, but the plot of this horror movie still manages to feel fresh. With a runtime of just 96 minutes, it’s a true horror treat. Even the release date is perfect as it’s on a Friday the 13th. And yes, you could definitely choose this as your new movie for the “horror holiday” where classics are often rewatched.

Continue reading our The Puppetman movie review below. Find it on Shudder from Friday, October 13, 2023.

Out of control

As indicated heavily by the title, there’s something going on that controls others. The title character has the ability to take over another person, who can fight back and may even be able to state that they’re not in control. It’s just to no avail because The Puppetman is in charge.

As far as we know for much of this movie, the title character is someone sitting as a convicted killer on death row. He never stopped maintaining that he was innocent and that some evil force was controlling him when he butchered his own wife.

The story in the movie, however, is about the daughter of the killer, Michal. After her new college friends begin dying in strange and brutal deaths, she begins thinking that maybe there is some truth to her father’s claim. And if her father is telling the truth, then the curse of The Puppetman must be broken by her. But how?!

While Michael Paré (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) is the first name listed in most places, he doesn’t have that much screentime. He’s a police detective working on these new murders, so he really isn’t at the center of this story.

Alyson Gorske is the star of the movie as Michal, who struggles with her father’s crimes and the death of her mother. Plus all the new deaths she seems to be connected with. Other actors in the core cast include Cameron Wong, Angel Prater, Anna Telfer, and Kio Cyr. Also playing a key supporting character is Caryn Richman (Beyond the Gates).

THE PUPPETMAN (2023) Shudder Review

A touch of Final Destination

Before watching The Puppetman, I hadn’t read up on the film beyond the plot, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, I knew who had made it, but that only told me that it was someone who knew how to make good horror movies. What I didn’t expect was that I’d get a Final Destination vibe while watching it.

However, I read the press material afterward and found out that it is indeed described by mentioning this exact horror franchise. Stating this movie “harkens back to films like Final Destination where you take a group of friends and exploit them for horrifying deaths”. And yes, this is exactly what happens in this horror movie.

And you can also expect some of these deaths to be as “creative” as those we know from Final Destination. Ouch!

The fact that The Puppetman won the Popcorn Frights Jury Award for Best Feature should also tell you that it has quite a lot going for it. So should the fact that it’s getting its exclusive streaming debut as part of Shudder’s annual “FearFest” programming lineup. The one happening on Friday the 13th of October. The film will also be available to stream on AMC+.

Watch The Puppetman on Shudder!

The Puppetman was produced by Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell, Ryan Christensen is co-writer with Brandon, and Seager Dixon is co-producer. The writer/director of The Puppetman is Brandon Christensen, who is someone we’ve already become quite familiar with here at Heaven of Horror.

So far, we haven’t watched a movie by him that we haven’t at least been able to recommend.

I know that sounds a bit lackluster, and it really isn’t meant to be. It’s more that some of his movies have been hyped more than others, and we’ve been fonder of the less hyped. His movie Still/Born was awesome and Superhost was another of his movies I enjoyed them immensely.

However, the Shudder horror movie Z (2019) didn’t impress our recurring guest reviewer, Andrew, as much.

But hey, to each their own, and I always want to check out whatever Brandon Christensen does next. It will always leave an impression and be entertaining. For me, The Puppetman is definitely a very classic horror movie – yes, despite also being called simply a “diabolical thriller”. This is very much a horror movie. And a good one at that, so enjoy it on Shudder.

The Puppetman is streaming on Shudder from October 13, 2023.


Director: Brandon Christensen
Writer: Brandon Christensen, Ryan Christensen, Matt Manjourides
Cast: Michael Paré, Caryn Richman, Alyson Gorske, Zachary Le Vey, Anna Telfer, Cameron Wong, Kio Cyr, Natalie Meetze, Angel Prater


The Puppetman, a convicted killer on death row always maintained his innocence and that it was an evil force controlling his body as he slaughtered his victims. Now Michal, the killer’s daughter, begins to suspect that there may be some truth to her fathers claim when those around her begin to die in brutal ways. She must try and break the curse of The Puppetman before all her loved ones are killed.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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