REVIEW: ‘Satanic Panic’ is fun but scares are limited

With the closure of movie theaters because of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m taking a look back at movies from 2019.

When I first heard about this title, I had hoped the film would be about the Satanic Panic phenomenon of the 80s that dominated pop culture.

That’s not the case with this flick, but it’s still an alright watch.

Hayley Griffith plays Samantha in this 2019 horror comedy, a young woman just starting out her delivery job for a local pizzeria. With a lot of deliveries taking place in the rain to homes not interested in tipping, though, her first day isn’t going great.

However, she gets an opportunity for a bigger tip when she delivers to a very wealthy neighborhood. The only problem is the neighborhood group she delivers to just happens to be a Satan-worshiping cult that decide to use her as a sacrifice. To survive, she has to team up with the daughter of the cult leader, Judi (Ruby Modine), who’s also become a target.

“Satanic Panic” is the feature film debut of director Chelsea Stardust and it’s not bad for a first film. The movie does in fact share a lot of similarities to another film from last year, “Ready or Not,” and that picture is better, but this one has its own charm.

The movie is extraordinarily tongue-in-cheek, so the comedic elements shine through much more than the horror ones in this tale of survival. This actually does undercut much of the tension in the picture, which ultimately means that an audience may not be as hooked in as they would be with other movies, but the entertainment value is still there.

Watching Samantha have to quickly assess the situation and eventually team up with Judi in the midst of this crazy night as they evade a suburban demon cult is a wild ride, and it certainly captures one’s attention.

Courtesy RLJE Films, Fangoria and Aperture Entertainment.

Those who enjoy their horror movies with more blood and gore will certainly have fun with this one. Some of the curses and actions by the cult get fairly gruesome, resulting in a pretty gnarly horror experience.

While it delivers on blood splatters, though, it just kinda goes half-hearted in the whole social commentary aspect. To bring up the comparison again just one more time, “Ready or Not” took much better social jabs at the ideas of income inequality and how a lack of understanding exists in the upper class. This film makes somewhat of a push in that direction, but it doesn’t hit as hard.

The acting is an area where the film does work well enough. Griffith, whose experience comes mostly from television, is solid as the reluctant protagonist here. Her character has to navigate a rough situation on the fly and Griffith is rather convincing.

Modine, meanwhile, is good in portraying the polar opposite of Griffith’s character, coming across as really hardcore about the situation. Having the most fun with the flick, though, is Rebecca Romijn, who chews all kinds of scenery as the main antagonist.

All together, the lead trio provide solid performances, especially in playing up the humor. Overall, this one works well enough for a watch, but it doesn’t push the boundaries like others in the genre. 3 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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