Directed by: #ChelseaStardust
Chelsea Stardust’s satanic horror-comedy stands as an entertaining tribute to the satanic-horror movies of old. Under her skilful direction, Satanic Panic (a brilliant title, for sure) ridicules the old tropes of the genre. And although it does fall into a fair few in the process, it generally remains self-aware enough of its more ridiculous plot and character elements. Indeed, Satanic Panic is at its best when it’s not taking itself too seriously.
Beth’s (Hayley Griffith) first day as a fast-food delivery driver isn’t what she was hoping for. “I took this job for the tips”—but no-one tips. What she probably wasn’t expecting, however, is that one of her deliveries would lead her into the clutches of a satanic cult. Suddenly, tight-fisted customers don’t seem so bad.
Rebecca Romijn puts in a spectacular performance as Danica, the satanist’s leader; and Arden Myrin stars opposite as her power-hungry rival. There’s also a brilliant cameo appearance from Jerry O’Connell—which gets cut unceremoniously short. It’s great to see the cast of cultists revelling in the almost cartoonish silliness of the situation on screen, and they’re obviously having a lot of fun. But at times the over-the-top performances and excessive splatter-gore can become a little tiresome. They are, however, more often than not, balanced out by Hayley Griffith’s fantastically restrained performance and excellent comic timing.
Thematically, Satanic Panic can be seen as a satirical take on class and generational tensions. Both are very much at the forefront of news reports these days, so this isn’t terribly surprising. It is effective, however, and helps bring relevance to an otherwise totally farcical concept. It also delivers some...interesting lines of dialogue. Sometimes witty and inspiring—“You’re a blue-collared badass, and I’m a spoilt rich kid with a gun.” And sometimes, not so much—“Fascism gets things done!” Say what you will, but Satanic Panic is never dull.
And maybe that’s the most important thing here? Because for all its faults: the overtly camp quality to the narrative, the excessive performances, and the occasional irritants they cause. Satanic Panic is a beautifully put-together movie. It looks gorgeous, thanks in no small part to its excellent cinematography (#MarkEvans), exceptional set design and buckets of gore-laden practical effects. There’s a strong sense of nostalgia here, and for horror fans of my generation, I think this will be a hard one to dislike. Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect something different from our horror films in recent times, as such, this also proves to be a hard one to love.