REVIEW: Satanic Panic slices up a good time in the vein of horror-comedies like Evil Dead 2 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Director Chelsea Stardust’s follow-up to Hulu’s All That We Destroy is a quippy, low-budget throwback to practical 80’s horror effects with engaging female leads.

2019 has been a great year for fun throwback 80’s style-horror films with evil satanic cults and plucky heroines. While I think a lot of people will unfairly compare Satanic Panic to Ready or Not, and, indeed, it’s kind of unfortunate the two came out so close to each other, Satanic Panic is a fun horror ride with a lot in common with the early films of Frank Hennenlotter and Sam Raimi than the slick effects horror-comedy that Radio Silence put together with Ready or Not.

Satanic Panic follows Sam (Hayley Griffith), a pizza delivery girl working for tips for Home Run Pizza. Sam agrees to deliver a big order to a rich outside suburb called Mill Basin hoping for a big tip but gets stiffed. She breaks into the party hoping to shame the partygoers into giving her gas money for her Vespa, only to find that the get together is a satanic invocation to bring the ancient Satanic deity Baphomet into the world via a virgin’s womb, which Sam just happens to possess and that makes her a target for the coven’s lead witch Danica (Rebecca Romijn) and her lackey Gypsy (Arden Myrin). Danica’s daughter Judi (Ruby Modine) was the coven’s official target until she got herself de-virginized. Sam and Judi hook up to escape from the coven which sounds easier than it turns out to be once they start to use black magic against them to finish their ritual.

Overall, Satanic Panic is a lot of fun. Stardust does a great job in coaxing a great ice-queen performance from Romijn as the evil cult leader, and we have some great cameos from genre stalwarts like AJ Bowen. Ruby Modine really redefines herself with a great character role here as Judi, rather than the one-note antagonist she plays in the Happy Death Day films, but it’s Hayley Griffith’s enthusiasm that really gets you behind her. This could’ve easily been a weird bust like Chance The Rapper’s pizza scooter delivery person horror film from last year, Sliuce, but its really fun and a throwback to movies like Night of the Demons, Night of the Creps, or Evil Dead 2. Think of a fun version of House of the Devil that doesn’t hate its female characters and you’ll have a good idea of Satanic Panic. Grady Hendrix’s script is quippy and has a lot of great character bits, including a really good origin for Sam as well as great recurring jokes about the Code of Sams and the coven’s seeming incompetence throughout. Make it a Halloween pick in October.