Review: Hail Satan? (2019 Sundance Film Festival)

Title: Hail Satan?
Rating: NR
Director: Penny Lane
Starring: Lucien Greaves
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins

What It Is: The controversial religious group TST (The Satanic Temple) and its members’ truer intentions are uncovered in this quirky documentary as they fight for secularism: the separation of church and state. They do so through various large-scale pranks and gestures in order to level out the influence the Christian religion has over government. One of these gestures includes constructing a giant Baphomet statue with children at his side to be put up on government property.

What We Think: At my time at Sundance, I have found that where the narrative films seriously lack, the documentaries make up for. In fact, I think the documentaries kind of kicked the narrative films’ asses. 

Kicking it off, this movie happily plays with your expectations to a point—what the point of the TST is as a whole. While you may think its majority cause is sacrifice and demon worshipping, in actuality, its purpose is so much more meaningful. This doc is incredibly competent, from its plentiful and inviting interviews to coloring the group’s snarky and hilarious anti-Christian, anti-theocracy antics, and fighting hidden absurdity with fabulous, ostentatious absurdity. It’s about the “refining” of Satanism, per se. It’s badass, matching its subjects with a brilliant sense of humor and provided a wicked good time. And as many positive adjectives, as I’m using, I should still stress–this film tells the truth, not sugar-coating anything or leaving any important tidbits behind. A group shrouded with ambiguity and confusion is finally given the voice it needs in order for us to more fully understand their actions.

Our Grade: A+, Eye-opening, and smart. This was quite educational. Hate the Church of Satan or not, I challenge you to watch this. I have an inkling that afterward, you’ll be tempted to fight some authority and make some chaos. This film is absolutely heavenly.

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Chai Simone Written by: