Satanic Panic (2019)

This horror-comedy entry is so good-natured and well-intentioned that it may just remind its core audience why they love the genre in the first place. Despite its familiar trappings, somehow the movie feels fresh and inventive throughout: Maybe it’s that director Chelsea Stardust has a strong grasp of atmosphere and pace, and is able to create a light-but-engaging ride through a truly bonkers story about Satanic rituals and income inequality that doesn’t feel derivative nor tiresome. I was occasionally reminded of 2017’s “The Babysitter,” which has the same comedy-first approach that’s occasionally subverted by jarring violence and gore. It’s clear that there are budgetary constraints here, but Stardust and her cast more than rise to the occasion and manage to establish such good will that the entire movie is just so charming and fun. Lead Hayley Griffith seems like she’s having the time of her life, and she’s surrounded by promising genre performers like Ruby Modine and AJ Bowen, but really it’s all about Rebecca Romijn: She’s got striking onscreen presence, an unexpectedly depth touch with comedy, and there’s a hilarious cameo featuring her real-life husband Jerry O’Connell that’s worth the price of admission on its own (not to mention how great she looks in her bright red dress).

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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