Satanic Panic. The name alone would mean that before I knew anything else about the movie, I would want to see it. Then I saw an awesomely designed poster and I was pretty certain that this movie was the type that seemed made for me.
I was lucky enough to first see Satanic Panic at this year’s Frightfest. It is the perfect film to watch at a film festival, with a crowd of horror-loving people wanting to have a good time. It makes you laugh, it has a whole lot of blood and gore, it’s ridiculously fun and at times, is surprisingly sweet.
Lead actress Hayley Griffith is perfect as Sam in both looks and performance. She is super likable and I just couldn’t help but cheer her on from start to finish. You couldn’t want a better lead character or actress. Which makes it even more surprising at how inexperienced Griffith is. This being one of her first movies ever and her first major role in anything at all. If there’s any justice in the world, she will go on from here to much bigger things.
The rest of the cast is also fantastic. Whether it’s a brief cameo from the experienced Jerry O’Connell as the father/husband or the perfectly cast Rebecca Romjin as the mother/wife or AJ Bowen (who horror fans will know from You’re Next or Hatchet II or The Sacrament or a million other things) in a small but fun role or Ruby Modine who is excellent and improves on her role in Happy Death Day or Arden Myrin as Gypsy who will make you laugh in every scene she is in.
Satanic Panic is ridiculous at times, there’s no getting around that. Whether it’s killer bed sheets or accidental deaths or attacking tree creatures but it never gets too silly. You will both laugh at and love everything on offer. The situations the characters get into are ridiculous – the main story is a pizza delivery girl who ends up in the middle of a satanic ritual after she asks for a tip! But the characters are ridiculous in completely the best way and there’s something to love in all of them, from major to minor roles.
The movie somehow feels like a love letter to eighties horror while at the same time feeling very ‘now’ and highly original. Maybe the gore and practical effects play a big part in this. Blood explodes out of body parts, while there are some really cool-looking make-up and effects including, for some reason, lots of things coming out of people’s mouths. But also close-ups of injuries and the occasional and very awesome creature. There really is plenty to enjoy here.
Director Chelsea Stardust has made one of the best directorial debuts of 2019 and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future – up next is an episode of Hulu’s Into The Dark. Similarly, I can’t wait to see what writer Ted Geoghegan (as well as co-writer Grady Hendrix) does next because he has a whole back catalogue of great scripts.
Satanic rituals have never been as much fun as they are here and Satanic Panic is one of my favourite horror movies of the year.
Dir: Chelsea Stardust
Scr: Grady Hendrix, Ted Geogeghan
Cast: Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Arden Myrin, AJ Bowen
Prd: Dallas Sonnier, Amanda Presmyk, Adam Goldworm
Music: Wolfmen of Mars
DoP: Mark Evans
Runtime: 85 minutes
Satanic Panic is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.