How far would you go to right a perceived wrong against you? Satanic Panic (2019), a Shudder exclusive film, follows a pizza-delivery girl who, when stiffed on a tip, enters the house only to discover a Satanic cult of affluent members of the community. She ends up getting far more than she was asking for.

Directed by Chelsea Stardust and written by Grady Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan, Satanic Panic is a joint production of Fangoria and Aperture Entertainment. The film Stars Haley Griffith, Rebecca Romijn, Ruby Modine, and Arden Myrin, with a brief cameo for Jerry O’Connell.

You can catch the film on Shudder right now. Check out the trailer below.

What Worked About Satanic Panic?

Sam will soon be panicking… Satanically…

The film definitely skews toward the B-movie style and is visually slick and fast-paced. The film doesn’t really stop once Samantha finds herself in the crosshairs of the cult with the exception of one moment of reprieve with an estranged member of the community. By the time the credits rolled I found myself shocked by just how fast the movie felt. There is not a single wasted moment: this isn’t an entirely positive assessment, however.

The performances are pretty solid down the line. The key plays come down to Hayley Griffith as Samantha and Rebecca Romijn as Danica. Jerry O’Connell feels a little oddly placed, serving as little more as a brief joke, however. Despite this, the cult has some interesting characters that the film could have easily explored more. The ending is ultimately chaotic and possibly a highlight of the film. It is very much in-line with what you’d think a Satanic ritual evolves and cranks it up, just perhaps not to eleven.

What Didn’t Work?

Typical Friday night in the rich neighborhoods of America.

Despite the fun tone of the film, it doesn’t quite stick the landing as a horror-comedy. The film also feels overly cute in a way; a lot of that falls on the performance of Griffith’s Samantha. Samantha is a cute character, a kind of manic-pixie-dreamgirl amidst the Satanic 1%. She is ultimately a passive sort of character, despite her driving impetus of pushing for the delivery tip she was stiffed. Any growth in her character feels perfunctory at best.

The lack of real horror is what ultimately hurts the film. There are some good moments of horror and gore, such as an over-sized drilldo, but it just doesn’t feel like enough. And yes, the film features a sequence with a drilldo. Believe me, I am shocked as well. The film is also pretty lean at an hour and twenty minutes. Perhaps another twenty minutes of cultish insanity could have added more.

The film also introduces a major figure sort of haphazardly at the end. This probably could have been handled better. To go much further than this would be a spoiler.

Final Verdict

The film could have used more weird stuff like this.

The film is a bit too twee and struggles to deftly balance the tone between comedy and horror, rarely delivering on either in a satisfactory way. This is an example of a horror film where holding back ultimately harms the film.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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