Satanic Panic (Movie Review)

Director: Chelsea Stardust | Release Date: 2019

4

Complete with rich suburban satanists, black magic rituals, horny pizza boys, and Jerry O'Connell in tighty whiteys, Satanic Panic has a little bit of everything packed up its comedic, demon-summoning sleeve. Unfortunately very little of it coalesces into anything but cartoonish calamity.

Strapped for cash, a recently hired pizza delivery driver, Sam (Hayley Griffith), goes on one last run to a rich suburban neighborhood and is stiffed on tip. Her Vespa is low on gas and refusing to start. Sam decides to enter the home to pool money from the cloaked inhabitants only to realize they are satanists that have recently come in need of a virgin in order to summon Baphomet. Sam fits the bill. Managing to escape but hiding in the neighborhood, she meets Judi (Ruby Modine), one of the satanists' daughters who just escaped being murdered due to her part in de-virgin-ing the cults initial target. The two join forces to try to escape the cult's clutches.

There's fun to be had within the frames of Satanic Panic. The fundamental issue here is that the script, its characters, and the performers are working against it at every turn. Every character's personality is turned to 11, leaving them to come off as caricatures. While this technique is acceptable in doses, when its applied to the entire cast you're left with an exhausting cacophony of voices that becomes fiercely aggravating. Griffith's performance embodies a bizarre mix of plain Jane and a cartoon sketch of a character constantly putting their hands on their hips while they look up at a conversation bubble that reads, "Aw shucks, guys." Meanwhile, Rebecca Romijn gives a bit of elegance to her Baphomet worshipping cult member but she can't quite cut through the wall of noise from her various co-stars.

Not content with accepting the magic and supernatural aspects, director Chelsea Stardust attempts to bring clarity to various spells being performed. All too often though there's a hard stop on explaining what's happening followed by a character delivering a one-off line to surmise the events. This is particularly frustrating in a scene involving a black magic spell performed on Judi while Sam is instructed to write all over her to stop the various horrors committed to Judi's body.

Stardust manages to drive this thing home (to varying degrees of success) with practical gore effects, music selection, and an often charming sense of humor that shines through when it desperately needs to. However, in true too-little-too late fashion Satanic Panic manages to summon little more than a passing "meh" from Baphomet itself.

Luke

Writer

Horror movies and beer - the only two viable options for entertainment in the wastelands of Nebraska as far as he's concerned. When he's not in the theater he's probably drinking away the sorrows of being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.

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