satanic panic | chelsea stardust | grady hendrix | rebecca romijn | arden myrin | hayley griffith | cult | demon | demons | ritual | comedy | united states | ruby modine | aj bowen | jordan ladd | jeff daniel phillips | jerry o'connell | hannah stocking | skeeta jenkins
Film: Satanic Panic
Director: Chelsea Stardust
Writer: Grady Hendrix
Starring: Rebecca Romijn, Arden Myrin and Hayley Griffith
This was a film that I was hearing a lot about through podcasts. Some people got the chance to check this out during its festival run and I know the director, Chelsea Stardust, went on a podcast to be interviewed as well. I also follow the actress Hayley Griffith on social media, which I happen to find her completely adorable, so that peaked my interest more. The synopsis here is a pizza delivery girl at the end of her financial rope has to fight for her life, and her tips, when her last order of the night turns out to be high society Satanists in need of a virgin sacrifice.
We start this off getting to know the area that will be the main location of the film. We can see this is a rich area and coming up to a door we get a POV shot. This leads us to a room where Judi Ross (Ruby Modine) is having sex with a guy. She is confronted and we know that it is her mother and she is not happy with her daughter.
It then takes us to our star, Samantha ‘Sam’ Craft (Griffith). She is working as a pizza delivery driver, but we see that it isn’t going well. She needs money and she begged Duncan Havermyer (AJ Bowen) for a job. He sees it a bit differently than she did. Through a montage, it isn’t going well for her. Her last five dollars are taken by Mr. Styles (Skeeta Jenkins), her boss. They take an order at the pizza shop and it is to an area that is out of their range, the neighborhood we saw earlier.
A man answers the door and Sam drops off the order. When he fills out the slip, she sees that the 100 dollar order has no tip. When her scooter won’t start, she goes back to pound on the door. She goes inside and it isn’t want she was expecting. Sam is a bit odd and doesn’t catch on a first though. This is actually a Satanic cult ran by Danica Ross (Rebecca Romijn). It then becomes a fight for Sam’s life as she tries to escape them and their black magic as they try to summon Baphomet.
I should lead off that I personally felt this was a pretty fun film. I’m a big fan of movies with cults. The only drawback I would give for that here though is this definitely feels like watered down version for a more mainstream audience. I don’t necessarily see that as an issue though. This definitely could be a gateway film for a younger audience to start checking out some of the more classic ones for sure.
The writing here was really solid if I’m going to be honest. We get some things that are introduced early in the film that come back later and make more sense to the overall story. Examples here without spoiling anything is a song Sam sings and shows her coworkers has a much deeper meaning, she gets duped into helping a frat guy who is also a Sam into helping with a couch and his reasoning is outrageous. This second one for sure has a major callback. It is things like this that I can appreciate.
I also really enjoy the care of detail that they put into the ritual and cult aspects to the movie. Baphomet is definitely a character I’ve heard of. This one introduces Samaziel, which I haven’t been able to find being a real character in Christian or Satanic Mythology. The amount of thought they put into the spells and the effects of them as well.
What really hurts this film for me is that it is a comedy. I didn’t necessarily find it that was overly funny though. A lot of it didn’t land with me. I will admit there were times though that it got me to chuckle. It doesn’t come off though like a true comedy, as there are quite a bit of horrific things that happen here.
Something that I did have an issue with was the pacing. I don’t want to come out and say that I was bored as that’s not the case. I do feel that the film does lose it way a bit at times and I did lose interest. I feel that the problem is the effects in this film are good and I wanted to see more of that. There’s a lot of Sam hiding and trying to survive so it hurt the tension a bit for me.
Since I started covering them, like I said the effects were really good. For the most part they looked to be done practically. We get some wounds that looked real and blood did as well. We also get some interesting creature effects for demons here. The film is also shot very well and I’m assuming there were some CGI, but it never took me out and looked real enough.
The cast for this is quite interesting. Romijn is still attractive and I thought she was solid as the main villain here. Arden Myrin is also good as the second in command who is vying to be in charge. Griffith as I said earlier is adorable. Her awkwardness really worked for me and I like the fight that she has in her. The more we learn about her character, the more things make sense. Modine is solid. Glad to see Bowen, Jordan Ladd, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Jerry O’Connell and Jenkins among others. Many of them play cultists which worked for me as well.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack for the film. I think that it definitely fit for what they needed. Griffith has a song that she sings here which is cheesy, but when you learn more about it. It’s heartfelt. This isn’t a score I would revisit a lot, but it definitely helped to set the mood of the scenes and build tension.
Now with that said, this movie has some really good things that I dug. I think we get some good writing here for sure. The aspect of the cult and being Satanists is good. I think that the acting really helps to bring this to life with the effects being really good as well. This being a comedy does hurt it slightly for me, especially since the film does kind of lose its way in the second act. The ending really worked for me though. There is a slight social commentary as well that rich people stay that way with the power of Satan, which is kind of a thought process for those that take advantage of others around them in real life. With that said though, this film is above average and still pretty fun.
My Rating: 7 out of 10