Satanic (2016)

Lesson of the day, folks: never trust Netflix’s ratings system. After having seen 2016’s Satanic pop up with a rating of 4.5 / 5, my interest was certainly piqued, so I decided to give it a bash. It follows the story of four college kids – Chloe, David, Seth and Elise – who stop off in Los Angeles on their way to Coachella in order to visit a number of true-crime occult locations in the area. After having a run-in with the proprietor of an occult store, they decide to trail him back to his house, where they witness what seems to be the attempted ritualistic murder of a young woman. They flee back to their hotel, Chad losing his phone in the process, and meet up with the woman the next morning after she contacts the quartet after having salvaged the mobile phone. Chloe convinces the other three that the woman is clearly in need of some help…however, it’s not long before they realise that there’s a lot more to her that meets the eye, and maybe she’s not the victim of the situation after all…

Now don’t get me wrong; the above synopsis makes the film sound far more interesting than it actually is. Satanic is a dull movie filled with horrendous characters, a lacklustre, uninspired plot and little-to-no tension. I don’t know what it is about horror scriptwriters and their apparent inability to write likeable characters, but with the exception of Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland in the lead role, who at least demonstrates that she knows not to be a total douchecanoe every single moment of her waking hours, all our supposed protagonists are utterly detestable. They’re boring, self-involved and have no sense of self-preservation…so when things inevitably turn to shit, it’s hard to feel any sort of remorse for their situation, because you just don’t care. They keep making terrible decision after terrible decision; from following the shopkeeper to his home, to meeting with the victim, to then taking her in. It gets tedious. I’m getting a little into spoiler territory ahead, so if you’re set on watching this movie regardless of this review, you might want to skip to the next paragraph, but we don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing these characters get their comeuppance; all the good stuff happens offscreen…and not even in a good, tension-buildy sort of way. It’s just an utter disappointment.

There’s an interest concept that goes a tiny way to redeem the rest of the film at the end, in which our heroine – I use that word in the loosest possible sense – finds herself traipsing through a labyrinthine abandoned industrial building (an interesting interpretation of hell, perhaps?), but this does little to make up for the utter dross that the rest of the film comprises.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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