Satan Hates You
October 18, 2011 (U.S. DVD)
James Felix McKenney
James Felix McKenney
Don Wood as Marc
Christine Spencer as Wendy
Christina Campanella as Holly
Larry Fessenden as Glumac
Angus Scrimm as Dr. Michael Gabriel
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
Satan Hates You is an Over-The-Top Throwback to Forgotten ‘Scare Films’ that tells the story of two not-so-average folks and their perilous lives of sin. As they begin a downward spiral, can they “save” themselves and their souls before it’s too late?
Marc (Don Wood) and Wendy (Christine Spencer) are two people living “sinful” lives independent of each other. Marc is an unemployed, homeless alcoholic. Unfortunately, he’s also uncertain of his sexuality to the point of having massive, homicidal rages whenever either someone questions him on it or he finds himself in an awkward position after a particularly strong night of drinking. Wendy, on the other hand, lives in a continual haze of drugs and sex. Enabled by her friends, she finds herself in more and more dangerous situations, inching towards to spiraling out of control. Unbeknownst to both of them, two hell-spawned lesser demons, Glumac and Scadlock (Larry Fessenden and Bradford Scobie), encourage their dangerous descent in the hopes that they can claim them for their master. However, there are forces working to save and protect Marc and Wendy’s souls… but only if they can get through to them in time.
Satan Hates You is, more than anything else, an acquired taste. Is it explicitly for horror fans? Yes and no. It’s not “scary” in almost any way and isn’t really a horror movie, yet it’s gory, bloody, and has one of the most genre-actor loaded casts in recent indie memory including Angus Scrimm, Reggie Bannister, Michael Berryman, Debbie Rochon, and others. Is it sacrilegious and blasphemous? Again, yes and no.
There will be people who don’t understand the satire in Satan Hates You, or who choose to take it at face value. In a way, that’s emblematic of how well the movie does its job. The lack of a plot beyond “people sin incessantly and in the face of blatant consequences” will be a turn-off to some viewers. However, that’s how the “scare films” this movie is based on work: the “sin” of the main characters increases exponentially either to the point of a person’s destruction or their redemption. Would a normal person lose the booze after having to chuck multiple bodies into a dumpster? Sure, but the filmmakers aren’t showing “normalcy” here, they’re using “scare film” logic. Thus they play that style for humor by exaggerating it as, to paraphrase comedian George Carlin, it’s possible to joke about anything depending on what the exaggeration is.
Nowhere is this idea more apparent than a darkly comic abortion scene in which the standard “scare film” horror of the dirty, dingy “back-alley” abortion is replaced with a grisly sewer one. Here, there is no anesthesia, just a nurse and a gloveless doctor who are completely tactless and rude, lamenting the “slut” Wendy, telling her to “calm down” as she screams and freaks out, and getting sprayed with blood throughout the procedure. Of course abortion is a delicate, complex, and controversial issue. But “scare films” had a tendency to exaggerate such issues, so this one does to an even greater degree and feels like it nails the feel and style of its target that much better as a result.
Actingwise, Don Wood and Christine Spencer are decent as the two protagonists, playing undeniably flawed characters with crucial humanity. As such, they are likable in spite of their continual sinning, and it’s easier to want them to overcome the demons leading them astray. However, the supporting cast and cameos in Satan Hates You help turn the satire into something truly special. Fessenden and Scobie, for instance, give the type of over-the-top performances that would be expected of lesser demons in a movie such as this. The rest of the cast similarly nails its parts. Where else is it possible to see Angus Scrimm as a fantastic soft-spoken, bible quote-reading televangelist, Reggie Bannister as a totally believable bartender, Michael Berryman as a hilariously judgmental and religious hotel clerk, Debbie Rochon as a recovered alcoholic turned repentant, obedient Christian, and more… ALL IN ONE MOVIE? Every one of them absolutely knocks their role out of the park and helps to make the final product that much more interesting and engaging.
However, again, Satan Hates You is not for everyone. Those who take religion too seriously or are easily offended should steer clear. Also, while there is plenty to analyze in the movie’s satire and style, the previously mentioned threadbare and simple “sin” plot can wear thin and feel repetitive by its nature. In addition, the rapidly flashing visual effects sometimes used in the film could theoretically cause problems in those sensitive to such stimuli. Finally, the movie’s ending, while in keeping with the movie’s story arc, is a little unfulfilling and sudden given the movie’s satirical tone.
Satan Hates You is a stylish, effective throwback to a now-rarely seen subgenre. Admittedly, the movie is hampered by the filmmaking standards of its influences and provides minimal traditional horror scares. However, its outstanding genre cast, copious blood and gore, and exaggerated black comedy make it recommended for those who can handle its extreme take on religion.