I don’t get it. There are literally thousands of aspiring horror filmmakers out there just looking to get noticed. They bust their asses for days, weeks, months, even years. They populate their crews and casts with friends, relatives, or other low-to-no-price talent searching for a usually-elusive big break themselves. They pour everything they’ve got and then some into getting their flicks made, hustling up whatever cash they can via crowdfunding, loans, you name it. They work two or three jobs to finance their ventures themselves to whatever extent they can and film at nights, on weekends, or whenever they have a couple of hours to spare. And if and when their movies get completed, then they have to double down and work even harder just to get anyone to see them. They hit you up on twitter. They email you. They start facebook pages that get 15 members. And they never give up, leaving the line between “persuasive” and “pestering” too far back in the dust to even see it anymore. Do most of their films suck? Absolutely. Without question. But there are some true gems out there in the world of homemade horror, damn near literally dying to be seen, and yet — 99.999% of them never will be.
Then along comes comes a guy like Jeffrey Hunt, who, because he has some connections in the world of TV, gets a lousy and uninspired feature like 2016’s Satanic financed and distributed despite the fact that it’s so relentlessly stupid that no one in their right mind would sit through the whole thing.
Unless they plan on reviewing it, of course. So call me stupid, but I hit “play” on this thing on Netflix the other night (I believe it’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD but you shouldn’t bother) and toughed it out so that I could spare you, dear reader, the same miserable fate. I guess sometimes I just give ’til it hurts.
Here’s the deal : four cardboard ciphers — obvious final-girl-to-be Chloe (played by Sarah Hyland), jock-with-a-heart-of-gold David (Steven Krueger), “Goth Guy” Seth (Justin Chon), and annoying sidekick Elise (Clara Mamet) — are headed to Coachella (I hate them already) when they decide to visit some purportedly “Satanic” California crime scenes along the way. Early on they meet a mysterious figure named Alice (Sophie Dalah), and soon after they find themselves making one brain-meltingly stupid choice after another as they follow her lead into a downward spiral that eventually delivers them all into the hands of a —yawn! — cult that has sinister plans for our collegiate creeps. Kill ’em all now and get it over with, please.
Most of the principal cast have a decent enough grasp on the basics of acting, so that’s a plus, but screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski’s script is so aggressively hackneyed that whatever marginal amount of talent they have just goes to waste, and Hunt’s dull and plodding directorial style does less than nothing to elevate his decidedly sub-par material. Satanic goes from being plodding to being an absolute chore to endure at about the 20-to-25-minute mark, and it honestly never recovers — nor does it seem to even be trying to do so until the very end, when it attempts to pull a “surprise” ending out of its celluloid ass that is both exceedingly stupid and far too late in coming. The only mercy offered viewers here is when the closing credits finally begin to roll.
Production values on this one aren’t too bad in spite of an obviously low budget — there’s a graphic throat-slitting scene that’s pretty cool for gorehounds like myself — but it’s not worth sitting through 84-and-a-half minutes of utter shit for 30 seconds of “hey, that ain’t bad.” So depending on whether you’re a “glass half full”- or “glass half empty”-type of person, Satanic either offers proof that anyone has a chance to get a film released, no matter how terrible, or that Hollywood simply doesn’t have a clue what the fuck it’s doing and that you’re better off seeing if the local snowblower factory or take-out barbecue joynt is hiring, because no matter how good your amateur horror film might be, you’re never going to get anywhere with it unless you’ve got industry friends with a little bit of money to burn.