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HAIL SATAN? gets 8/10 Raising of the horns


Directed by Penny Lane

8/10

Irreverent and hilarious from the outset, this is not the documentary a true Satanist is looking for. It is a tremendous parody of extremist hypocrisy enacted by the infamous Satanic Temple, brilliantly documented by Penny Lane (Nuts!, 2016). It is, without doubt, a very dark comedy, with belly laughs aplenty at the expense of Christian right-wing evangelists, and who doesn’t love that kind of hilarity? A fascinating look at unexpected influence, Hail Satan? is utterly fantastic in the true sense of the word.

The Satanic Temple were made (in)famous for their attempts at mounting a statue of satanic deity Baphomet in the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol near a proposed statue of the Ten Commandments in protest against the Christian status quo of the US. This Christian state of play in US politics defies the US Constitution, which specifies that it is free from religion. Given the current political challenge for religious freedom in Australia, which if allowed, denies LGBTIQA and women’s rights in 2019 Australia, it is both awfully relatable and invites a vital discussion about the separation of church and state.

The very idea of a satanic church seeking visibilty and recognition may seem laughable, but utterly true – just not in the way you expected. What started as an anti-establishment movement and a rally against the Christian right turned on a dime in a moment and grew into something nobody from TST (The Satanic Temple) ever expected. It began as a prank and the spokesperson selected was initially an actor, but subsequently gained traction that took everyone by surprise and suddenly became a runaway train nobody wanted to stop. And the film echoes this wholeheartedly – you don’t want it to halt for anyone laying on those tracks.

Following the group from their initial appearances in the media to present day members across the globe outlining their anarchistic activities, it is a wild rollercoaster ride of a good time, pulling the finger at the system, and throwing horns of support. Mocking any kind of organised religion, TST are a necessary giggle at the expense of the devout, causing the best kind of ruckus where it’s really needed in Trump’s America.

Wickedly fun and thought provoking, Hail Satan? challenges the paradigm with its forked tongue firmly in cheek.

NATALIE GILES

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