by Ian Morton
Satanic Panic is a passable throwback to the B-Movie horror films it tries to emulate, but while fun to revel in the magic of exploitative cinema, it never manages to pack the same punch other filmmakers have achieved within the same niche genre.
After being enticed to take a job with the promise of lucrative tips, our heroine Sam is left disappointed at the end of her first day as a delivery driver. Coming to the end of her first day and desperate to turn a profit, she reluctantly takes one last job delivering pizza, in the hope of getting enough gas money to last the rest of the week. Upon arrival at the destination, Sam is greeted with a grizzly-faced apparition of a man, where pizzas are exchanged but tips are not. Enraged, Sam decides to chase the gratuity – a move that seems smart at first but one that quickly makes her the virgin sacrifice to a satanic ritual.
From the moment the film opens, Satanic Panic is a passion project from the mind of a true fan of the genre. Whether laughing at the overzealous pageantry of watching someone’s heart being pulled out through their throat or enjoying the deliciously camp soundtrack, it’s clear that relative newcomer, Chelsea Stardust knows exactly what she wanted to achieve from the get go.
While certainly clunky in places, it’s clear that the young director has learnt a lot from a career that has seen her assisting some of the biggest names in horror. Leaning on budget special effects, outrageous performances and a keen eye for the macabre, there is a lot to like from a film that could easily see Vincent Price making a cameo.
Easily the biggest asset to the film is Rebecca Romijn. Chewing the scenery at every possible opportunity, Romijn’s character of suburban housewife (and local coven leader) is played with such conviction, it makes the women from The Real Housewives TV shows look like a bunch of 4 year olds’ arguing over Barbie dolls at a tea party. It’s a role the actress has clearly had masses of fun with and a performance that the audience will enjoy just as much.
Problems arise however whenever Romijn is away from the screen. Unlike George A. Romero’s, Night of the Living Dead, or Sam Raimi’s, Evil Dead, there are flecks of a wider social commentary but these ideas never gain enough traction to be a significant takeaway, edging the film more into gore porn territory than satire. Its this lack of depth that keeps it well and truly in straight-to-dvd territory, unable to break ground and entice more casual viewers to keep watching.
Ultimately, Satanic Panic is a film built for fans and those with knowledge of the genre instead of your average movie fan looking to kill a Friday night. Although the over the top violence and an impressive turn from Romijn will certainly make you chuckle now and then, there is little more than a light comedy horror under a very enthusiastic facade.
Satanic Panic is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download now.
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