Dir: Chelsea Stardust
Starring: Rebecca Romijn, Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Jerry O’Connell, Jordan Ladd, and Arden Myrin
Every Friday night during my childhood was pizza night. My parents would call their friends, the kids would rent some scary movies from the video store, and food would be delivered from the local pizza palace. Thirty minutes later the doorbell would ring and the delivery person would be standing there, waiting with fresh pizza and hoping for hefty tip.
In director Chelsea Stardust’s new film, “Satanic Panic”, a pizza delivery girl named Sam (Hayley Griffith) is trying to keep herself financially above water by delivering to a wealthy neighborhood known for their odd practices. After being stiffed for a tip, Sam stumbles into the house and realizes that she’s interrupted a party…a party of Satanist’s looking for a virgin to sacrifice.
“Satanic Panic” is going for that 1980’s straight-to-video vibe, trying to achieve in its less than 90-minute run time that nice balancing act of combining enough humor to keep the tone fun, freewheeling and campy, a few gory scenes to make one “ooh” and “aah” at the viscera, and enough odd and strange twists and turns to make it stand apart from others like it.
And, for the most part, the film is successful in remaining entertaining primarily because of the lead performance of Hayley Griffith who provides Sam with enough self-confidence and honesty to maintain the seriousness of her character’s dilemma. Supporting character Ruby Modine, playing an accompanying sacrificial offering named Judi, has some great one-liners while Arden Myrin, playing one of the more bonkers occultists named Gypsy, gets to chew on the scenery with comedy throughout the film. Rebecca Romijn, one of the big names in this production, gets to hail and hiss with hubris as the head-witch named Danica.
There is a strong 80’s aesthetic being pushed throughout the film; the score specifically has all the digital synth sounds to evoke that feeling and the emphasis on practical grisly effects is a nice touch. The narrative also aims for throwback vibes but wobbles between an interesting final girl scenario that is unconventional in a good way and a worn-out occult tale that struggles to make the impact necessary to turn the devilish troupe into something more sinister. However, it’s still fun to watch the inventive ways the film finds to eliminate the evildoers.
Unfortunately, some of the dialogs come off clumsy, with some characters stumbling over wordy exchanges and others not provided much to work with at all. The pacing crashes from scene to scene with inconsistent results while trying to connect the puzzle of effects gags and story transitions.
Still, there is a fun vibe composed throughout this film, one that shows that the creators of this movie grew up with scary VHS tapes from the video store and greasy pizza from the delivery guy.
3.00 out of 5.00