Satanic Panic (2019)
Directed By: Chelsea Stardust
Written By: Grady Hendrix
I hope that Satanic Panic is part of a new trend, fun horror films featuring strong female leads. It’s reminiscent of Ready Or Not, which blew me away at the theater when I saw it. Both movies have a solid foundation of horror with a layer of comedy that yields a prefect mixture of fun. This is a smart movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Our main character is Sam. She is working her first shift as a pizza delivery person when she makes a run to a rich neighborhood and stumbles into all sorts of weird trouble. The story gets crazier and crazier as it goes and the fun is turned all the way up from beginning to end.
The cast is great. Hayley Griffith plays Sam with enough naivety that you believe she would stumble into this world and with enough charm that you can’t help but root for her. Rebecca Romijn looks like she is having the time of her life, eating up the scenery in the best way possible. The supporting cast all deliver, as well. Everyone seems to have a solid grasp on the tone of the film and that is the key to it working so well.
Satanic Panic is the second excellent effort from director Chelsea Stardust this year. She also gave us the Hulu film All That We Destroy (which is the best of the Into The Dark series so far). She helms this one with a steady hand and seems to never make a wrong decision. The over the top storyline is matched by the over the top set design and costumes. I’m not using “over the top” as a negative in this case, all of this stuff comes together to create a heightened sense of fun because it all meshes so well. When all the elements of a film work in concert you have to credit the director for having a solid vision, being able to communicate that vision to others and sticking to it. If 2019 is a sign of things to come for Chelsea Stardust, she is going to have a long, successful career.
The script by Grady Hendrix is clever and well written. Hendrix is probably best known for his books We Sold Our Souls and Paperbacks From Hell. He creates characters that feel both over-sized and real at the same time. There is quite a bit happening in this story but I never felt lost. I knew who everyone was, what they were trying to accomplish and their motivations for doing so. Hendrix is a talented writer and he shows off that talent with this screenplay.
The horror community is full of people who talk about how important it is to support independent horror. I have always said that it is more important to support GOOD independent horror. Satanic Panic is an example of excellent independent horror. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has this film in theaters, go see it. If you’re not, rent it. Support this film. It truly deserves it. I hope that we get plenty more like this one.