Upon watching the debut trailer for Jeffrey G. Hunt’s Satanic, my eyes continued to roll uncontrollably for several minutes after it ended. It seemed like a soulless attempt to bring an often misunderstood religion to the mainstream–and maybe it is. But it’s also about dealing with identity crisis and preconceived notions. You know, the ol’ “don’t judge a book by its cover”. That may seem like low hanging fruit for a film about Satanists, but writer Anthony Jaswinski is able to pull it off in a way that is at least somewhat surprising.
The film follows a group of attractive 20somethings that decide to stop in LA for a makeshift tour of Satanic “hotspots” on their way to Coachella. They’re a juxtaposed crew comprised of two couples: the clean cut All-American Chloe and David, and the edgy poser-esque couple of Seth and Elise. While there is some overarching interest in Satanic pop culture from Seth and Elise, they’re far from what people may consider “legit”. After a clash with the owner of a local occult shop, the thrill-seeking adventurers find themselves in a pretty intense situation. What happens from there is up to interpretation… sort of.
While the narrative of the film plays it relatively safe, it never feels strained or boring. To be quite honest, I had rather low expectations that were exceeded with ease. The pacing is brisk, and (short of one questionable shot of CGI) the production values and FX work are nothing to sneeze at. Satanic is a polished product; maybe too polished for some. A little bit of grit could have given the film a bit more edge, but depending on how you feel about the actual story that is being told, you just might come away from this one feeling satisfied. I’m not sure it will ever warrant a 2nd watch, but for a night when you’re low on viewing material, this one will work just fine.
Perhaps the most impactful way to sum it up is to say: There’s nothing wrong with it. Satanic is a decent thriller with a surprise or two up its sleeve, but it never gets out of second gear. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking story arch or a gratuitous blood bath, this isn’t going to deliver. If you’re looking for some entertaining brain candy, give it a shot. I doubt you’ll regret it. In fact, I think there might be one or two overlooked nuggets of mystery hidden away in there somewhere.
Satanic hits DVD and BluRay on October 4th. It is currently available on VOD platforms.