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Satanic

Directed by Dan Golden

Written by Ben Powell

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Angus Scrimm, James Russo, Annie Sorell

Produced by Mark Burman, Scott Pearlman, Eric Ricart

Rated R

88 minutes

***

Let us all agree to support the careers of Jeffrey Combs, recent horror legend, and Angus Scrimm, much earlier horror legend.

These two have been almost universally good in all their appearances. I had once thought that Lance Henriksen was the only one who could be counted on for quality work no matter what movie he was sunk into, but you can comfortably add Jeffrey Combs and Angus Scrimm to that list.

Combs and Scrimm are two very good reasons to watch “Satanic.”

So what we have here plotwise is the story of Michelle, a woman who was in a car accident not too long ago. She wakes up some time later, not knowing where she is and laden with bandages.

But if her nightmares are to be believed, she’s been involved in some very nasty business.

Even worse, people around Michelle are dropping like flies.

So she’s left to figure out what all she’s been into before she winds up dead herself.

Okay, we’ve been here once or twice plotwise. But not so often that we can’t stomach it. Which means the only thing left to consider is the execution. How well did they bring it off?

I’ll say this much—the first five minutes are pretty creepy at that.

And it’s all going pretty well until the thirteen minute twenty nine second mark, where suddenly, Dan Golden takes us down a road so familiar that the asphalt’s worn through and there are potholes so big you could lose an Escalade in them.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to bring out the witchboard.

And what a doozy of a witch board it is, too. Packing no less than two pentagrams, including the planchette—a big what looks like pewter pentagram itself—the thing practically screams “Look at me! I’m EVIL!”

The bloodstains on its lettered surface don’t hurt either.

Longtime readers may remember my last diatribe on the subject of witchboards / Ouija boards, but for the benefit of the noobs I’ll throw it out again. This is pretty much the only thing that evangelical Christians, paganists, the paranormal scientific community, and every horror movie made after 1980 agree on—witchboards is evil stuff. Seriously, they do. It’s weird, and they all agree but for different reasons, but on this point they’re all on the same page:

It is an excruciatingly bad idea to actually use a Ouija board or any of its imitators.

If you had a sudden start at the eighteen minute twenty seven second mark, you’re not alone. The man that looks shockingly like David Hasselhoff in this shot is actually Rick Dean. But the twenty minute three second mark is actually going to do something pretty clever, going back to a story from earlier in the movie but from a totally different perspective.

I’m also going to admit that they do a nice job of releasing the bits and pieces of Michelle’s pre-accident past at a rate sufficient to cover the entire movie, as well as successfully integrate said bits and pieces into her current surroundings. The past and the present mix well together, and this comes off as quite a surprise.

In fact, the rest of the performances—not just Combs and Scrimm—come off quite well and highly believable. The plot is a little shaky, but the execution does such a good job that the holes can be ignored, if not necessarily forgiven.

The ending is a pretty big surprise, even if they spent a surprisingly large amount of time telegraphing the punches. Still, surprise it is and surprise it remains. Although it does play host to one of the movie’s biggest plot holes—at one hour nineteen minutes fifty-eight seconds, check out that knife. Despite the fact that it literally just went into the stomach of one of our male characters, who just happens to be lying on the floor with a bloody opening in his gut, that knife is clean as a whistle and springtime fresh.

The special features include Spanish subtitles (but English closed captioning, which is almost as good), audio options, and trailers for “The Nun,” “2001 Maniacs,” “Beyond Re-Animator,” “Fear of Clowns,” and “Hard Candy.”

All in all, “Satanic” is a movie that’s not without its problems, but also not without its successes. It should prove a solid rental choice.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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