second-rate summons: satanic panic

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We’re starting off this week with a little game of catchup, because I’ve continued to watch a movie a day but haven’t gotten around to writing them all up! I’ll make this one a quickie, because 2019’s Satanic Panic is neither good enough to rave about nor bad enough to bag on endlessly.

This production from the resurrected Fangoria has a lot going for it, from an (underused) appearance by Jerry O’Connell to a confident enough lead performance by Hayley Griffith and a script by author Grady Hendrix (HorrorstörMy Best Friend’s Exorcism). It tells the tale of a perpetually broke girl named Sam who takes on a delivery gig at a local pizza place. Her very first job takes her out to a rich area notorious for stiffing delivery drivers, and sure enough, she walks away from her inaugural delivery with zero dollars in tips.

Or, rather, she should have walked away, but Sam has already had a bad enough day as it is. She’s not going to take this from these mansion-dwelling cheapskates—and she’s also out of gas—so she marches back to the house to demand the tip she deserves. What she finds within is a satanic cult led by Rebecca Romijn, and they just so happen to need a virgin for their big sacrifice to the mighty Baphomet.

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Unfortunately, the events that follow aren’t nearly as exciting or pulse-pounding as they would clearly like to be, and there isn’t enough memorable comedy to push this into a more forgivable hybrid genre. I also think it would be too easy to criticize Satanic Panic as the victim of budgetary constraints. There’s plenty you can do on a basic story level to make up for a distinct lack of funds, and if money really is an issue then you could probably go ahead and ditch Romijn for almost any other actress. Jerry O’Connell and his late ’90s soul patch stay, though, okay?

There simply isn’t enough panic to warrant the title, which should just be chopped down to Satanic. I dig what I’ve read of Hendrix’s work otherwise, and I like the character of Sam here, so there’s something more special bubbling underneath an otherwise unremarkable movie.

If you want to check it out and judge for yourself, Satanic Panic is available to rent via Amazon and a bunch of other sites.

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Halloween 2019 Movies:

1. Sequence Break
2. Deadtime Stories
3. Hell House LLC
4. Body Bags
5. Pumpkinhead
6. Friday the 13th Part III
7. Child’s Play 2019
8. Ghoulies II

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