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With: Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Arden Myrin, A. J. Bowen, Jordan Ladd, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Michael Polish, Hannah Stocking, Whitney Moore, Skeeta Jenkins, Mike E. Winfield, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn
Written by: Grady Hendrix, based on a story by Ted Geoghegan, Grady Hendrix
Directed by: Chelsea Stardust
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 09/05/2019

Satanic Panic (2019)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Poor Devils

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This horror-comedy might have had the stuff to provide its share of shocking delights and ghoulish laughs, but instead it's unappealing and flat, with too-broad attempts at humor and not much horror.

In Satanic Panic, Sam Craft (Hayley Griffith) is on her first day as a pizza delivery person, and it's not going well. Customers refuse to tip her, and she can't even afford gas for her moped. After delivering five pies to a huge mansion, her bike won't start, so she marches back in to demand her tip. She stumbles upon a pack of satan worshippers, led by Danica (Rebecca Romijn), preparing for some dark ritual. But they need a virgin to complete it, and it turns out that Sam fits the bill.

She escapes and runs into Danica's daughter, Judi (Ruby Modine), who knows a little something about what's going on and helps Sam to hide. The Satanists find the girls anyway, and the ritual, to summon a demon, begins. But no one is prepared when an even more powerful demon intervenes.

Written by Grady Hendrix and directed by Chelsea Stardust, Satanic Panic cannot, at the very least, be called unenthusiastic. Yet somehow the tones just don't match up, or make sense. The movie is brightly colored, yet oddly unattractive. In the lead role, Griffith is likable enough, but also a little flat; her reactions to the craziness never inspire any tingles or laughter.

Romijn tries out an interestingly detached approach to her Satanist character, a little bored perhaps, but it also doesn't quite click. And her red-robed cohorts feel like something out of a slapticky sitcom. Slightly better is Modine, from the Happy Death Day movies (which got the humorous/horror tone just right), affecting a snappy patter for her character that at least keeps things moving.

But it's perhaps Jerry O'Connell who gets the biggest laughs in a brief, doomed role as Danica's not-too-bright layabout husband (he's also Romijn's husband in real life). His "I don't care" attitude is the only thing that breaks through Satanic Panic's overall blandness.

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