Disarmingly warm and humanistic, Penny Lane’s Hail Satan? challenges viewer perfections about modern satanists — or at least members of The Satanic Temple.
Without ever flat out stating it, the documentary shows that the controversial religious movement’s behavior is more Christian than that of the religious zealots who oppose its…well, not belief system — if they ever took the time to look beyond the label and learn it, that is— but name and paraphernalia.
That limited stance is informed by the strict black and white, good vs. evil understanding the masses have been trained to associate with anything linked with satan in the smallest way, a history that Lane lays out through smartly edited montages of Satanic Panic archival footage and Eisenhower-era newsreels of God’s name being added to The Pledge of Allegiance, U.S. currency, and other previously secular corners of society.
Through traditional yet highly professional talking head interviews and fly-on-the wall clips, she reveals these alleged devil-worshipers as social justice warriors and exposers of systematic hypocrisy, toying with the Christian right’s greatest fears to promote the decidedly non-religious tenets on which the U.S. was founded and which are becoming lost in an increasingly “Us vs. Them” culture.
The result is a cheeky, thoroughly entertaining and enlightening work with the power to unite unfairly fractured groups, and a film worth celebrating.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Magnolia Pictures)