body horror

[Movie Review] Satanic Panic (2019) ★★★☆☆

Danica before the sacrifices in Satanic Panic 2019

Satanic Panic releases demonic high society hell with campy and cheesy fun.


Satanic Panic is a supernatural occult horror comedy that is funny at times but often enough a hit-and-miss. It relishes in the gruesome violent gore but often the jokes fall flat. They are either too lame or too crude.

But the day is saved by Hayley Griffith as is the film. Her charm and perfect ordinary girl vibe really does the trick and her performance outshines the mostly lame satanic cult members who are too cliched to be funny or the be scary. 

It has an acquired taste when it comes to its humor. It’s a parody of the wealthy men and women who live in their big houses, being as nasty and without scrupulous as we might hope they would be. The film does have some great fun moments, overly gruesome and gory violent scenes but it often feels a bit off, like something is missing. Still it can be a highly entertaining movie, for the right kind of audience.


Plot

It’s Sam’s first day as a pizza delivery girl when she is sent to a classy rich neighborhood Mill Basin to deliver pizzas. But when she gets no tip she goes exploring the house and stumbles into a gathering of a cult who is about to sacrifice a virgin. Except their virgin is no longer a virgin but luckily for them, Sam is. 

Sam has to run for her life, while making terrible discoveries about what’s hidden behind all those big shiny doors, makes a friend along the way and proves to be a natural survivor. But can she really outrun a cult who has a lot of spells and demonic help up their sleeves of their big red robes?


Why you should watch it

The best part about the film is Sam herself. She is a very natural and believable character, and also highly likable. Her expressions are the best and her reactions are all too realistic, while dealing with the craziest people. She carries the film, like if it’s the last thing she does and it’s easy to root for her. 

The gore effects and practical effects are great and some scenes are overly stretched out, which really can become a sickening campy event. If this is your kind of humor, you’ll soon feel very at home. But the humor can also be very crude, carnal and even a bit juvenile, being all about sex jokes. Well, it can be a hit-and-miss, depending on your own taste. 

The cult is led by Danica Ross played by Rebecca Romijn who really enjoys herself but has to carry the wickedness of the cult solely on her experienced shoulders. Gypsy her second in command is a too cliched character that isn’t funny or threatening enough to humor the cult or the film.

It all comes down to a battle for survival that is fought between Sam and Danica’s daughter Judi whom she befriends and the evil Danica. It’s a show off not only of power but the will to survive and as we learn Sam has a lot of experience in that particular area of life, while Danica hasn’t had a setback yet. 

The film is full of twists and turns, you probably will see coming, but still are funny enough to entertain. The horror bits are truly horrifying, while the humor gets stuck at a lower cheesy level. The horror and humor aren’t well-balanced out and maybe it takes its horror too seriously while missing the pun of the humor bits.

It feels a bit off, like something is missing, in the music or cinematographically, I can’t put my finger on it, but it feels a bit hollow. Whether it doesn’t take it too far enough, or if it’s too rude and sleazy or just of a bad taste, I can’t say. But it definite lacks a fresh bite of occult fun. 

With lots of gore, bodily fluids, intestines, blood, black vomit, maggots, strange finger sucking creatures, sex, nudity, orgies, sadistic fun and over the top campiness, this is a film that has an acquired taste. It’s a feminist film and also not really at the same time, but if you stick with Sam, it’s very feminist. She has strong values, wants to make amends and make the right choices. Also let’s learn from the Sam-code, or either name will do, it might come in handy one day. 


My favorite part

The beginning when Sam finds herself at the gathering shows her very naive character and it’s very funny. It gets even funnier when she’s captured and the owner of the house is going to be a sacrifice himself and wants to ‘help’ her by releasing her from her virginity. How that plays out is very funny and reflects the point of view of Sam perfectly. If you didn’t like her already, you’ll certainly do now. 

Also the scene where she flees from the cult and knocks at a random door, you already know something even worse is going to happen. If a killer wants to prey on a babysitter, well lets hope he doesn’t come across Kristen, who is a evil B right out of hell with her little hellions and sadistic sister. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Fun factor: ★★★☆☆

Gore factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Satanic Panic is directed by Chelsea Stardust and written by Grady Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan. It stars Hayley Griffith (Sam), Rebecca Romijn (Danica), Ruby Modine (Judi), Jerry O’Connell (Samuel), Arden Myrin (Gypsy) and Hannah Stocking (Kristin).

Duration: 80 minutes. Music: Wolfmen of Mars. Cinematography: Mark Evans. Edited by: Michael Sale. Produced by: Dallas Sonnier, Amanda Presmyk, Adam Goldworm. Production companies: Fangoria, Aperture Entertainment. Distributed by: RLJE Films.


Check the trailer below


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