3/22/2020

Satanic Panic (Review)

Director: Chelsea Stardust
Writer: Grady Hendrix
Cast: Rebecca Romijn, Arden Myrin, Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, AJ Bowen, Jordan Ladd
Year: 2019
Min: 85

Samantha "Sam" Craft (the lovely Hayley Griffith) has started her first day as a pizza delivery girl, and man, is it ever a shitty one. She isn't getting any tips and is meeting all sorts of weird customers. That being the worst is yet to come for her. You see she is assigned to make a delivery in a wealthy neighborhood. Unfortunately, even here she is stiffed. Low on gas and needing the cash, she goes into the mansion and asks for someone, anyone, to give her a tip. She unknowingly has waled into a satanic cult led by the affluent and gorgeous Danica Ross (Rebecca Romjin). The cult soon realizes that Sam is a virgin, and that they can use her as an offering to the demon Baphomet. Sam must now run and fight to survive the night.
Satanic Panic is a horror comedy named after the moral panic, especially in the 80's, related to satanic cult abuse. A production of Fangoria and Aperture Entertainment, it is directed by Chelsea Stardust, who makes her full length directorial debut. She has provided us with a fun and frequently hilarious movie that is really welcome in these current rough and dark times.

Director Stardust keeps everything moving at a very quick pace. From the very start to the end, the flick is an absolute blast to watch. It just keeps moving forward, stopping very rarely and being never boring. The opening scene is exciting and make you say to yourself, "What the fuck is going on here?!" This a film that continuously bought a smile to my face. Yet, it gets decidedly dark upon its climatic sacrifice scene, proving that the best horror comedies are the one that treat their horror seriously. And, let me just say how much I simply love the ending!
Speaking of treating the terror seriously, there is a truly great moment of body-horror involving a voodoo doll. It is accompanied by a moving story that Sam tells to the girl (Ruby Modine of Happy Death Day 1&2) that she is trying to help. The combination makes for a scene that is both intense and touching. It is a tonal shift that works perfectly in the movie, thanks to Stardust's directing. She also makes the film look great and colorful in particular when the villains where their red robes.

The flick gets decidedly dark upon its climatic sacrifice scene, proving that the best horror comedies are the one that treat their horror seriously. And, let me just say how much I simply love the ending! On top of all of this, there is some great gore in the flick, as well, including: a fist through a neck wound, giant power-drill dildo impaling, gut barfing, and more, all excellently done.
The dialogue is smart, funny, and witty. I really loved when Sam questioned if this whole ceremony was for Baphomet, "as in the band?" or when she says that her neighbor is a Satanist and he is "vegan". It's moments like this that are so wonderfully quirky and modern, especially in relation to Satan worshiping.

As Sam, Hayley Griffith makes for a great heroine, one of my favorites of last year, in actuality. Her performance is extremely likable. You cheer her on and want her to survive. Romijn makes for a wonderfully fun and evil villainess in Danica. They are helped by a wonderful cast that also includes the aforementioned Modine, Arden Myrin, and more, including Jerry (Piranha 3D) O'Connell, who is both funny as hell and menacing in his short part as Danica's perverted hubby.
Satanic Panic is a wildly entertaining and great time, that it is pure enjoyment to watch. The film is very funny, yet it manages to also add suspense and even heart to its proceedings. The acting is great, especially from lead Griffith, who I hope does more horror movies in the near future. Director Stardust does an excellent job with her feature length debut, giving us one of last year's best horror movies. I definitely look forward to seeing what she will be bringing to the genre in the future. I would like to mention that this movie would make a great double feature with last year's awesome Ready or Not. A deliciously devilish good time, be sure to catch Satanic Panic. It started streaming on Shudder on March 19, 2019.


4 out of 4

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