Satanic Panic is a horror comedy film, following Sam Craft, (Hayley Griffith), a pizza girl, who makes a call to the wrong house and quickly finds herself the target of a satanic cult- due to her being a virgin.
Satanic Panic has vibes of pulpy grind-house horror, think Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, which is a delight to see as those sort of films are few and far between these days. Couple that with the fact that the film features a lot of horror references and homages to many horror classics, and you get a film that is going to scream, “Watch Me”, to any genre hardcore.
However, if you’re looking for a scare, you might want to look elsewhere as Satanic Panic is definitely more of a comedy than a horror; the last 15 minutes asides. Said final 15 minutes which features demons battling it out is not only cool but, also the film’s scariest section.
The comedy of the film mostly lands, making me smile multiple times as I was watching it. Although, somewhat surprisingly, where the film most shines is in its attempts to be dramatic. This comes when we hear Sam’s backstory and learn she is a cancer survivor, and that she abandoned her friend/ lover on the cancer ward. This scene is surprisingly powerful, far more so than I was expecting from a horror comedy film; the emotional weight of this scene hits you hard and fast taking you by surprise and knocking you off your feet.
The mythology of the film and how it approaches demons and devil worship is also novel and fresh; especially towards the ends when it focuses on the hierarchy of Hell. As a result the film almost demands a sequel so we can see more of this world and these characters.
The characters are also fantastic, Hayley Griffith plays Sam perfectly encapsulating her spirit and, to an extent her innocence. She makes for a solid lead and, one who is easy to root for. Likewise, Rebbeca Romijn’s Danica Ross is superbly evil, relishing every moment she is on screen; either with a fantastic quip or, a memorable scene. Romijn proves here why she is one of the best actresses working today. Though the breakout star of the film and, the one for me who gave by far the best performance is Ruby Modine. Modine plays Judy Ross, Danica’s daughter who is left for dead and, saved by Sam. Judy is capable but, also incredibly damaged and, the friendship she forms with Sam is incredibly endearing; watching her fight the forces of night is something I never knew I needed until now.
If you’re looking for a film that is going to scare you or, creep you out this isn’t it. However, if you’re a diehard fan of the horror genre and, like films that pack heart, laughs and, about 10 minutes of scares then this is for you! One of the most smile-inducing films I’ve seen all year.
Reviewed by Luke