Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Zero stars.

For all its over-the-top, Z-grade splatterfest shocks, the most gobsmacking thing about 'Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich' is that the screenplay is credited to S. Craig Zahler, normally a first-class purveyor of gore and desolation ('Bone Tomahawk', 'Brawl in Cell Block 99'). It’s challenging to square Zahler’s directorial output with the embarrassingly dreadful writing in this shoestring reboot of the 'Puppet Master' franchise. Reframing a story of murderous dolls as some kind of Nazi-sploitation nightmare for our neo-fascist times, directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund manage a tastelessness twofer. On the one hand, they encourage the viewer to cackle with glee as the diminutive clockwork stormtroopers enact their own miniature Final Solution on a succession of racial, religious, and sexual minorities. On the other hand, they also dictate that the film's heroes affect a pulpy, 'Inglourious'-style righteousness, a pose as ridiculous as it is condescending. The whole thing is moronic and unpleasant as hell, redeemed only marginally by the anything-goes transgressive hokeyness of the homicidal set-pieces.