Director Chelsea Stardust’s 2019 release, Satanic Panic is a film which knows exactly what it wants to be. There’s no pretence or aspiration – Satanic Panic wants to be a fun horror-comedy which doesn’t skimp on gore or laughs. Grady Hendrix’s script (based on a story by Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan) is totally preposterous and everyone involved knows it. It’s like an ‘80s throwback, the type of film you’d pick-up at a video store on a Friday night based on the box cover and the title alone. If you treat it as such then you’ll have a fun time.
Hayley Griffith is Sam Craft, a pizza delivery girl who is eager to make some much needed extra cash from tips. Sam decides to take a delivery which is off her route in the rich part of town to score some additional dough when she accidentally stumbles across a Satanic cult (led by Rebecca Romijn). They just happen to be looking for a Virgin sacrifice when their intended victim had some availability issues. After escaping the Satantists clutches, Sam tries to keep one-step ahead of her would-be captors with the help of her wits and the cult leader’s estranged daughter (Ruby Modine).
The vision for Satanic Panic seems to have been After Hours meets Suspiria for the Trump era — and it hits the target thanks to Stardust’s understanding of how to tackle the film’s OTT tone. The director gives the audience the blood and gore that fans will want but it doesn’t skimp on performances. Hayley Griffith makes for an impressively feisty heroine who undergoes a personal transformation as the film progresses. It’s potentially a star-making turn from the actress and she handles her character progression very well. Rebecca Romijn chews the scenery as the Satanic leader who runs her cult like a CEO, while Ruby Modine does good work as her rebellious daughter.
There’s much to enjoy in Satanic Panic. Some horror purists could potentially be disappointed that the film puts laughs before scares – but it’s not that type of film. Satanic Panic is a popcorn flick for gore-hounds, a beer and pizza movie for the blood-thirsty and a comedy for those with a dark soul. It’s the type of film that will attain cult status and probably get some serious rotation as a midnight movie for years to come.