Satanic (2016): Chasing the Devil in LA (Review)

Sarah Hyland in Satanic

Written by the same man who thought up The ShallowsAnthony Jaswinski, and directed by Jeffrey G. Hunt, Satanic offers an intimate cast and a storyline that shifts gears partway through the film.  It stars Sarah Hyland, Steven Kruger, Justin ChonClara Mamet and Sophie Dalah,  as well as  Gotham‘s Victor Zsasz;  Anthony Carrigan,  in a splendid cameo role. 

The film follows four young people on their way to Coachella. (Rather interestingly, Hyland appears in another 2016 film XOXO that has a music festival as its main theme.)  The two couples take a detour to the festival and decide to explore the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.

Seth (Chon) and Elise (Mamet) are the satanic obsessed goth couple who drag David (Krueger) and Chloe (Hyland) along for the ride, even though David is doing all the driving.  This is not a harmonious group. They spend a good bit of time bickering.

Elise is Chloe’s friend so that gains her some acceptance but not much.  The quartet find Anton LaVey’s Satanic Church and pose for pictures. The congregation are not impressed and spit at the group.

Things go steadily downhill from there.  The college students go into a Satanic shop, where they meet Anthony, the store clerk. They follow him to a Satanic ceremony and end up rescuing a young woman from the clutches of the cult.

Essentially the film can be seen as a morality  tale, or more basically as a “let sleeping dogs (demons) lie movie”  Even more than either of these, the film offers a common sense warning, “do not take the devil or his disciples lightly.”

The movie  is heavy on atmosphere and there are a few scares in store for the college kids and the audience. Overall, however, this is not a terrifying film.  As the movie progresses, and the film really could have been titled “Things Not to Do on Spring Break,” things get ever stranger for the members of the little group.

Elise is the one most  obsessed with the morbid nature of LA. The gang visit the house where Manson’s cult followers murdered Sharon Tate and her friends in 1969. With all the callousness of youth, none of the group care one iota about the pregnant Tate or her friends  on their  little “tour.”

After the Satanist store experience they take in the normal sights. They visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame and head to the beach and boardwalk.

Once they pick up Alice (Dalah) things get much worse.

The only problem is that no matter how bad things get for this little bunch of college kids, none of them, not even Hyland’s character, warrant any real sympathy. Not one kid in the foursome is actually likable.

Shallow, self-centered and beyond stupid, the only thought that runs through the audiences’ head is just how this lot have managed to survive life this long. Even Hyland, who is clearly meant to be the “perennial virgin” in this horror film comes across as not being the sharpest tool in the shed.

The main problem has noting to do with the cast. Hyland and Chon have a slew of credits under their belts. (90 between the two of them.) Mamet and Krueger have 17 and 20 respectively. Dalah has the least experience of any of the actors although she acquits herself well.

Satanic is an interesting film to watch, but at the end of the day, none of the characters are impressive enough that we care when the devil hunts them down one by one.

Hyland is the best thing about the film but only because she effortless exudes that “kid sister” vibe, or the “girl next door,” motif. Even that is not enough for us to shed a tear when she meets her fate.

Regardless of the lack of characters we care about, Satanic is not a bad film at all. It is certainly entertaining enough and worth watching once and once only.

Satanic is a 3 star film. Airing on Netflix, the movie can be watched with no fear of losing any popcorn as there are no “jump scares.” The film is rated ‘R’ for violence, unacceptable language, a very brief flash of nudity and a touch of gore.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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"I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

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