The Movie Waffler New to Amazon Prime Video - SATANIC PANIC | The Movie Waffler

New to Amazon Prime Video - SATANIC PANIC

satanic panic review
A pizza delivery rider stumbles upon a suburban Satan worshipping cult.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Chelsea Stardust

Starring: Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romjin, Arden Myrin, A. J. Bowen, Jordan Ladd

satanic panic poster

Satanic Panic takes its title from the moral panic of the 1980s, which fuelled by conservative grifters like Tipper Gore, Oprah and Geraldo, saw fans of the dark arts blamed for crimes that were more likely being committed by so called respectable folks. Unlike the recent We Summon the Darkness, director Chelsea Stardust's film doesn't seek any sort of restorative justice for those scape-goated in this era. Rather it's a simple, knockabout throwback to the films of Bob Hope, Abbot & Costello and Scooby Doo. And for at least half of its running time, it succeeds.

satanic panic review

Key to this success is a charming performance by Hayley Griffith as the adorably naive Sam, whose first night working as a pizza delivery rider sees her sent to Mill Basin, the most affluent neighbourhood in town. Surely the tips must be great there? Nope. Not only does Sam get stiffed by a customer who refuses to tip her a cent, but when she enters his house to complain she stumbles upon a gathering of Satan worshippers.

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Led by Satanic soccer mom Danica (Rebecca Romjin), the assembled suburbanites have gathered to summon a demon. All they need is a sacrificial virgin. Wouldn't you know it, poor old Sam's cherry is fully intact, and she soon finds herself chased around the neighbourhood by Danica and her followers.

satanic panic review

Satanic Panic hits the ground running, wasting no time in quickly getting into the meat of its horror comedy narrative. Griffith makes for a great Bob Hope stand-in, delivering self-deprecating jibes while the movie simultaneously draws attention to the ridiculous American system of labour that sees many workers rely solely on tips rather than, you know, an actual wage. From the Marx Brothers, Stardust and screenwriter Grady Hendrix borrow some cutting and comedic class commentary, with Griffith as Groucho and Romjin a demonic Margaret Dumont. As in the Abbot & Costello monster mashups, Satanic Panic gives us a comic protagonist and a villain who takes it all seriously. It's a fast-paced delight that proves that a comic formula from eight decades ago can still play fresh today.

satanic panic review

But then, roughly half-way through, Satanic Panic hits a narrative wall. The gags dry up, plot elements are introduced only to ultimately lead nowhere, and too much time is spent with characters verbally filling in backstory. I'm struggling to think of too many movies that collapse so drastically after such a promising opening half. It almost feels like the movie's first and second halves were written by completely different authors, such is the noticeable absence of thrills and spills in its back end. It's a real shame, as 40 minutes in I was really falling for the goofy appeal of what had been a rollercoaster ride up to that point.

Satanic Panic is on Amazon Prime Video UK now.