Original Title: Satanic
2016 – U.S.A.
Director: Jeffrey G. Hunt
Music: Jim Dooley and Todd Haberman
Screenplay: Anthony Jaswinski
With Sarah Hyland, Steven Krueger, Justin Chon, Clara Mamet, Sophie Dalah and Anthony Carrigan
Story: Four friends on their way to Coachella stop off in Los Angeles to tour true-crime occult sites, only to encounter a mysterious young runaway who puts them on a terrifying path to ultimate horror.
Satanic has a bad reputation, bad reviews almost everywhere, with rating around 3/10, on websites like IMDb, Senscritique or many others. Still, with its simple story, its youth cast but promising, its subject, I wanted to give it a try, to see if the feature is as bad as they say, as boring, slow, with bad acting… And when I see everyone spit on a film, calling it one of the worse film of the year, it makes me laugh. Because in the end, Satanic isn’t the worse film of the year, far from it. Yes, you’ll see it and then you’ll forget about it, it has nothing new, there are no answers. Yes, it has a lot of writing’s problems, especially about the characters, but beyond all these aspects, making it only a simple B movie for a Sunday rainy afternoon, we are in front of a film made seriously, nicely, with nice cinematography, some pretty good actors even if the characters are not really good, all that with a few nicely made special effects (even if yes, there are rare), and an atmosphere taking its time (maybe too much). We follow 4 friends, young adults, in Los Angeles, renting a room in a shitty hotel because a girl cut her throat years ago, trying to summon the devil. Yes, here, the goal is to do demonic tourism. And with that, we have all the cliché we could expect from such a story.
So we have two passionate people (about satanism), the friend following the group, the boyfriend who doesn’t believe to all that and doesn’t have even any interest, a few references to, of course, one of the most infamous satanic murder from Los Angeles (yes, Sharon Tate… RIP), a fake satanic group, and of course, a young girl, lost, about to bring to the story a key element, a bad element leading to weird stuff, murders, well the devil. Satanic doesn’t have a brilliant or ingenious script, not even really original, but still, in its narration, it’s pretty nicely done. We can’t say the same thing about the characters. Nothing out of the ordinary, a lot of clichés, and, the most important, characters who change for no good reason half way because hey, it’s not useful to the story anymore. The best example is David, the best character in the beginning, because he doesn’t believe to any of this, he’s just here because he followed his girlfriend. He doesn’t believe to all these satanic cults, he even doesn’t give a f***, but of course, as the story has to move, he’ll be the first to accept something dangerous, like, spying on a satanic cult, even if his girlfriend doesn’t want to. Why? Screenwriting’s magic! Too bad, because the actors are kinda good.
For those of you who love bloody special effects, Satanic might be also a big left down, because even if it’s a short film, 85 minutes only, the story starts to move around 40 minutes really. Before that, just long talks, some spying on people, more talks in hotel’s room, or at the Santa Monica’s pier, on front of some Satanic’s store (with a small uncredited part from Devanny Pinn, an actress we’ve seen in Truth or Dare or The Black Dahlia Haunting). Long, but not really boring, at least not for me. Then, the film finally wakes up, and the last 30 minutes, even if it lacks of real surprises, has a better rhythm, a few bloody shots and weird scenes. That part seems to be hated, because everyone was asking for more. More gore, more explanations. And it’s true, Satanic sometimes gives us some scenes just for fun, because it looks cool, but no explanations at all about some of the events, no justifications. Still, maybe because I was expecting worse, Satanic was not a pain in the ass. Lot of bad stuff about it, especially in its script and characters, maybe it lacks of ambition, but it was nicely filmed, and seriously made from the start.
Pretty good actors
A few nice scenes
Not a lot of surprises
No explanations / justifications
So: Satanic isn’t that bad. It’s just a simple B movie. You can watch it, enjoy it, forget it.