Satanic centers on a spring break trip that goes from fun adventure toying with sinister magic to a quick descent into despair. Chloe (played by Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland) and her straitlaced boyfriend David (Steven Krueger from The Originals) tag along with Chloe’s goth cousin Elise (Clara Mamet, The Neighbors) and her equally goth boyfriend, Seth (Twilight’s Justin Chon) on a weird Satanic tour of L.A.
The four friends make several stops along the way, including the LaVey Church of Satan and one of the sights of the Manson Murders. After they encounter a creepy salesman at a Satanic bookstore the group follows him, subsequently interrupting a ritual of sorts and “saving” a girl whom they believe is about to be sacrificed. They offer the victim one night’s stay in their hotel room but soon realize they are in for much more than what they bargained for.
Satanic is a fast-paced thriller that fills in some of its slower moments with really likable characters who realistically interact like true-to-life college students. Sometimes these kinds of characters in horror movies are depicted rather negatively, and as a result, the viewer just wants them to hurry up and get possessed and/or killed. However, these characters have distinctive personalities and the actors capitalize on their apparent chemistry during the slower moments. The four friends are also fairly amusing and play up the frat boy vs goth stereotype in a perfect balance of comedy without overdoing it.
From the very beginning, Satanic has a distinctive, creepy feel that underlies every scene and is exacerbated by a sudden tragic event that befalls the group, after which the movie intensifies as the characters find themselves in the grasp of something they don’t quite understand. Even though the goths can be quite campy, they don’t ruin the atmosphere that is set by clever sound effect and an interesting choice of score.
As the climax revs up, the viewer doesn’t get a break emotionally or mentally, as strange occurrences start stacking up back to back. However, instead of going for cheap jump scares, director Jeffrey G. Hunt (making his feature debut after stints with TV shows such as Gotham and The Vampire Diaries) instead takes the creeper, more sinister route to frighten the audience. The scares are well crafted and subtle, allowing for a consistent feeling of unease and anticipation of what is going to come next.
While the first half of the movie is insanely creepy, the last thirty to forty-five minutes are incredibly intense. This is thanks in large part to Sarah Hyland, who plays Chloe, and does an excellent job selling the part of the scared and abandoned young woman. Hopefully she is in more horror movies because she certainly has the charisma (and scream!) to be a modern day Scream Queen. Also important to note is Satanic’s take on hell and Satan, which have been almost beaten to death in movies at this stage, is surprisingly original.
Overall, although it’s not a masterpiece, Satanic is a great, fun addition for the Halloween season or for any movie night where you just want to be creeped out, but not necessarily to have to leave the lights on for bed. Satanic’s great choice of cast, inventive scares and twist on a well-trodden premise make it an instant addition for anyone’s collection, with both mainstream and horror junkie appeal.
Catch it when it releases October 4th on DVD which includes a special features section of behind the scenes goodness! Make sure you stay tuned to WickedHorror for all your spooky needs.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Jeffrey Hunt
Writer(s): Anthony Jaswinski
Stars: Sarah Hyland, Steven Krueger, Clara Mamet, Justin Chon
Studio/ Production Co: Magnet Releasing
Release date: September 1st, 2016
Length: 84 Minutes