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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Satanic

October 2nd, 2016

Satanic - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand


It’s the first week in October, so there’s no better time to review a horror film. This is one of the reasons I choose to review Satanic. Also, the film stars Sarah Hyland from Modern Family and I like her in that show. On the other hand, it was a really small release. There were no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes when it came out; there wasn’t even a page on Wikipedia. So is this an undiscovered gem?

The Movie

The film begins with a short prologue that includes some black and white footage of how Satan has been depicted in media, but it then cuts to a woman trapped in a Satanic place. A jump scare later and we meet our main cast.

David is driving into Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Chloe, in the front seat. Meanwhile, Seth and Elise are getting high in the back seat. They are on their way to Coachella, but got to Los Angeles either early or late, depending on how you look at things. They are early, because they have a couple of days to kill; however, they are late, because they arrived in the middle of the night. They are also lost and can’t find the hotel they have a reservation for. On the way there, they see a woman in an abandon building. She’s screaming, but the people just dismiss her as a junkie who is having a bad trip.

When they get to The Flower, the name of the hotel, Seth and Elise have a surprise for David and Chloe. They’ve rented room 204, because that’s the room Lainey Gore killed herself in. Lainey was a member of Anton Szandor LaVey’s Church of Satan. The reason they kept this quiet was while Seth and Elise are into the occult in a morbid curiosity way, Chloe and David are not. In fact, Chloe wants to leave right away, but David falls asleep seconds after laying down on the bed.

The next day, Seth and Elise are using a ouija board to try and contact Lainey, but it doesn’t work. So the group decides to go the local chapter of the Church of Satan and get spat on by a couple of members. (On a side note, the Church has a Saint Peter’s Cross on the front of it. I hate that and it’s a pet peeve of mine. I’m tempted to make a keyword listing all of the movies that use the Saint Peter’s Cross as a symbol for Satanism, but even I’m not that far gone.) More Satan tourism later and we are not yet approaching the plot. ... We’re not even that far into the movie, it just feels like it is taking forever to get to the plot.

We finally get there when the gang visit a store that specializes in the dark occult. Again, the clerk dismisses them when they try to buy something. However, Seth tries to sneak into the back room seeing a bowl full of eyes before he’s caught. He assumes its fake, but the gang still gets kicked out and threatened as well. After a bit more normal tourism, the group talk about following the Satanic clerk. Chloe is the only one who doesn’t want to go. While they are following the clerk, they joke that he’s a poser and probably has a reality TV show. However, when they get there, spoilers happen.

So is Satanic an undiscovered gem? No. It is far too generic and takes far too long to get to the action to be a gem. Not only does it take nearly 30 minutes before any real action happens, there’s only a couple of events in the next 30 minutes before we get to something that could really be called horror. I wouldn’t mind spending an hour to get to the action, if that time was spent getting to know the characters and if the characters were engaging enough to spend time with. Neither happens here. Seth and David are not developed beyond “Dude bro” and “Slightly Gothy Dude bro”. Elise had potential to be an interesting character, because she was clearly genuinely interested in the dark arts, but only had a surface level understanding of what was going on. Finding out why she became interested in this subject would have really helped make her more engaging, but that never happened. We spend the most time with Chloe, but that doesn’t mean the character had any real development either. There’s another character that I didn’t get to, due to spoilers. On the other hand, overall the acting was better than average for a low-budget horror movie.

Sadly, once the action does start, for real, the film doesn’t get too much better. This is partially due to budget concerns, as the filmmakers couldn’t show some of the supernatural events, only their after effects. Three times in a row, the characters heard a loud ruckus, only to run into the room and see what happened. If that had happened just once, it would have been fine. Three times in a row entered the realm of self-parody. Even the climax lacked anything truly scary. There were a couple of twists in the movie, one of which I didn’t see coming. That isn’t enough to save the movie.

The Extras

There are a quartet of featurettes on the cast, special effects, behind-the-scenes, etc. Combined they run over 17 minutes, which is not a lot, but it is on par with most releases like this.

The Verdict

Satanic takes too long to get going and isn’t scary enough when it does. That’s a fatal flaw for a horror movie, low-budget or otherwise. The DVD and Blu-ray don’t have a lot of extras, so that further hurts the overall value.

Filed under: Video Review, Satanic, Justin Chon, Sarah Hyland, Clara Mamet, Sophie Dalah, Steven Krueger, Anthony Carrigan