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Satanic Panic (2019) Review

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Satanic Panic is as silly as it sounds, but still boasts a generous amount of gory terror in its delightfully witty descent into Satanism. The film follows pizza delivery girl Sam Craft (Hayley Griffith) as she stumbles upon a Satanic ritual whose clutches expand surprisingly far and wide. After a customer fails to leave a tip, she enters his home to demand payment, but what she witnesses will cost her more than a couple of bucks.

Chelsea Stardust’s feature-length directorial debut is a wicked, fun ride into the depths of hell that wears its tongue-in-cheek nature proudly on its sleeve. The tone is pitch-perfect, and it is a rare-breed of comedy-horror that wholly works. There are plenty of witty one-liners and many moments of the film are laugh-out-loud funny. However, it is also successful in its drive for horror, where blood and guts come fast and quick. Satanic Panic’s deaths are gruesome and creative, ranging from death by a drilling dildo to being shot straight in the neck. These moments work well to balance the film’s lighter moments, and even though this is undeniably funny, it is pleasantly scary.

For those who shudder at the thought of horror CGI will be pleased to learn that Satanic Panic is an homage to ‘80s horror and its love of practical effects. There are gloriously gory moments that are surprisingly icky, including one that sees a man get his guts pulled out of his mouth. Yuck.

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This is a love letter to films like Society, where the horror genre is used to explore and comment on the evil that lurks in, well, society. In Satanic Panic our Satanists are the well-to-do upper class, who reside in their mansions with their 8 bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms. The film literally poses the question: how do you think the rich stay rich? And answers it firmly with humour and horror alike. It’s a film about the horror of struggling to succeed; our Sam wants strives to pursue a career in music, but must settle as a pizza delivery girl who can’t catch a break. It’s a timely satire that will only become increasingly more relevant as the poor grow poorer and the rich become richer.

Satanic Panic is even better for its performances, where Rebecca Romijn especially appears to be having the time of her life as Danica Ross, leader of the cult. She’s wickedly devious and driven, determined to sacrifice a virgin if it’s the last thing she does, and all the while remaining calm and demonically collected. She as some of the best lines and delivers them with bite, perfectly portraying a wealthy devil-worshipper if there ever was one. She is supported by a strong female cast that further includes Happy Death Day’s bad-ass Ruby Modine, a hilarious Arden Myrin and Hayley Griffith, who navigates the moments of horror and comedy with ease.

Satanic Panic is a resounding success that balances wonderfully on its tightrope of hilarity and terror. It’s well worth a watch, especially for its excellent performances and overall witty take on the link between class and ungodly religion.

Check out a clip from the film below.

SATANIC PANIC IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY™, DVD AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD NOW

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Features

FrightFest 2019 Review: The Wind

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In this supernatural western set in the 1800s, a young woman is haunted by her past and, possibly, a demon while she reminisces about times gone by while her husband is away.

Directed by Emma Tammi, The Wind is an assured debut and, although it may not be so admired by those that like their horror more extreme, it is a welcome difference from popular modern horrors like It, Annabelle and Pet Sematary. Tammi follows in the footsteps of directors like Robert Eggers and Ari Aster, preferring her horror to stand the test of time, rather than embrace short and sweet moments of shock.

This is certainly a horror film more reminiscent of The Witch than The Conjuring, so don’t expect there to be jump scares galore on anything extremely, overtly frightening. This film’s horror lies in its eerie atmosphere and the sense of loneliness that is felt by Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard). Her isolation is filled with dread as there is literally nobody around. She can scream and run, but there’s no one here to help her. It’s immediately, easily scary to place yourself in her position and imagine what you would do if your husband disbelieved your fears that feel so real.

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It’s a slow-burning, complex horror-drama that weaves seamlessly between the past and present as Lizzy remembers her time spent with the pregnant Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) whilst she is alone. She is soon haunted by whispering voices that travel on the wind and begins to believe there is a demon after her. The film’s moments of physical terror are quite impressive, feeling like a welcome explosion in the film’s subtle darkness. A moment with the reverend is a stand-out; if a little over-the-top for a film that has been so consistently slow and steady.

It’s all set to a score that is wonderfully menacing and puts a horrifying twist on the music typically heard in westerns. The desolate landscape becomes drenched by sinister strings that heighten the film’s suspense, perfectly mimicking Lizzy’s descent into possible madness. Her journey is an emotional and heart-felt one, ultimately portraying a woman’s fight to be believed and Gerard does well to embody the necessary amount of emotion and strength needed to convey such an important character.

The Wind is a worthy take on western-horror, but my main fear is that it is overall rather forgettable. It doesn’t quite manage to pack the long-standing and chilling punch that it so admirably tries to land and doesn’t hit the horrifying heights of the aforementioned The Witch or Ari Aster’s efforts with Hereditary and Midsommar. The Wind is a spooky 80 minutes, but it eventually succumbs to cliched horror tropes and that prevents it from being truly significant.

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FrightFest 2018 Review: The Cleaning Lady

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Poster-TheCleaningLadyIn director Jon Knautz‘s The Cleaning Lady the lonely Alice (Alexis Kendra) befriends Shelly (Rachel Alig), a woman scarred by burns. The two develop a friendship where they are both equally saving the other from very different types of pain.

At first I was worried that this film’s story would be too predictable; the scarred lady will get too close to the pretty blonde, developing an obsessive relationship that leaves one of them dead. I was only partly correct. Instead of falling down an entirely expected rabbit hole, The Cleaning Lady only toys with the idea. There is a lack of surprise in the story which is a little disappointing, but learning about Shelly’s back-story in neat exposition does offer a few moments of intrigue.

Both the leading ladies are complex and interesting, mainly steering away from cliches associated with female characters. Sure, it’s a little under-whelming to see a woman sick with love and another hindered with supposed imperfections – women do care about more than just their romantic relationships and their beauty, you know? – but perhaps this film’s grounding in horror can be transferred to more than just its jump scares. There is a certain horror in the sadness of these women that perhaps urges us to remember that, as women (and men, of course), we can find happiness outside of these stereotypical preconceptions of joy.

The similarities and differences between Alice and Shelly feel a little cliché – they’re both broken, scarred and tormented – but, Kendra and Alig’s performances feel real. The friendship becomes touching, the conversations between the two feel sweet and credible, which is enough to generate the desired empathy from us, the audience. There are times where it feels shallow, but there is certainly a worthy sentiment below the superficiality.

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Of course, these moments of friendship only feel like warning signs, because this is a horror film, so the happiness can only last so long.

The Cleaning Lady has one heck of a nauseating opening scene, so it’s a shame when you realise that nothing in the main body of the film can live up to this immediately icky beginning. Except maybe when you realise where it’s going… OK, I’ve said to much. It does feel like much of the film is spent waiting for something to happen and, even though it’s a meagre 90 minutes long, there are times when it feels a lot longer.

The film feels like a horror fairytale, where a twinkling soundtrack works well against the foreboding visuals to enhance a clash between the dark and the light, good and evil. There are no scenes of real terror – although, Shelly’s childhood is filled with a generous helping of its own, twisted horror – but, The Cleaning Lady‘s own obsession with jealousy, envy, abuse, toxic attachments and the idea of being saved, do offer an element of thematic horror.

The Cleaning Lady is a decent, almost all-women-led semi-slasher – which is quite the mouthful, but you get what I mean. It’s creepy and strange, led by a couple of great actresses, so add it to your never-ending watch lists.

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THE PASS – THE BEST OF STAGE-TO-SCREEN

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Whether it’s a classic musical or a ground-breaking play, works written for the stage don’t always successfully translate to the big screen. Those that do, however, shine with such potential that makes for some of the most well adapted stage-to-screen films of all time, and in time, fundamentally earn the title of being classics in their own right.

To celebrate the release of one the most beautifully transitioned plays to film, The Pass, coming to DVD April 10th, we are taking a look at an array of the most thought-provoking and attention-grabbing plays which were resuited for the big screen.

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Chords in Conversation: Aaron Poole Talks us into ‘The Void’

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Canadian actor Aaron Poole has had a rich career working in both film and TV, but his latest role has taken him to a place he’s never entered: The Void. In The Void, Aaron plays Daniel Carter; a police officer tasked with protecting the civilians inside a hospital when a group of hooded figures surround the building. As madness starts to ensue within the building too, Daniel must tackle the physical nightmares inside and outside, plus an inner turmoil that is equally as difficult to handle.

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Features

An Adult’s Guide to Animation

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Seoul Station – a thrilling tale of a zombie outbreak in South Korea – isn’t your typical animated fare – it features gut-munching zombies, brutal violence and white knuckle tension. Definitely not one for the kids, but why should kids have all the fun? Putting the Disneys, Pixars and Ghiblis of the world to one side for a moment, here are a selection of animated films that run the gamut from outrageous and erotic to surreal and irreverent; you should perhaps watch when the little ones are tucked in bed!

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Features

Alice Lowe Guest Curates a SHUDDERsome List

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Since Alice Lowe’s directorial debut, Prevenge, first debuted as the curtain opener for Critic’s Week at the Venice Film Festival, it went on to screen at many a key festival around the world including Toronto, Dinard, Sitges and London. Now, ahead of the film’s February 10th, 2017 release, Kaleidoscope are currently taking the film, and Lowe, on a 16 venue preview Q&A tour.

With Prevenge all set to release in a couple of week’s time, Lowe took a moment to curate a list of her top horror films you can catch on AMC’s streaming service SHUDDER.

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