MOVIE: HAIL SATAN?
STARRING: LUCIEN GREAVES; JEX BLACKMORE; NICHOLAS CROWE
DIRECTED BY: PENNY LANE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Who ever knew we had a friend in Satan? The greatest revelation of director Penny Lane's newest documentary is to know that there is a group, known as the Satanic Temple, that is out in our world fighting for religious freedom. Not at their own service, but service against the devout Christian right, that seems to believe only their religion matters, and nothing else. One thing to notice is that there is a question mark at the end of the title and if you are in anyway like me, one of the many lapsed catholics of the world, discouraged by the hypocrisy of many, and various criminal acts by those who “believe” in religion, then Hail Satan? is a documentary you have to see. You might not become a believer in a group that looks to satan, but you will certainly get on board with their fight to voice someones choice in religion.
To understand why Hail Satan? is such a good documentary, you might want to know a bit about the director Penny Lane. Her previous two documentaries, Nuts! and Our Nixon, both have unique styles of storytelling. Nuts! was an animated film, telling us about a “mostly true” story of Dr. John Brinkley, an entrepreneur that rose to power in the 1920's. Our Nixon was all on Super 8 videos documenting Richard Nixon, captured by his aides, and displaying a side of the president that some may have never seen. What do all three documentaries have in common? Power. It all seems to come down to it, but Hail Satan? is telling a different story of power. It is telling a story of the little guy, a group of people that seem to be searching, hoping to carve out their own unique place in the world, a place where Christian views are not the sole rule of the land. I for one am thankful for a group like the Satanic Temple. I'm glad someone is fighting for this.
The leader of the group is Lucien Greaves, a man who never wanted to become the sole head of the Satanic Temple from the start. The documentary catches up with Greaves, standing at the side of a man wearing a cape, devil horns, and a hand flame thrower, preaching that they agree with Florida senator Rick Scott, who protested to have prayer be said in public schools. The Satanic Temples argument? Sure, as long as we can praise satan as well. When you hear the way the group spells it out, speaks about accepting all people, fighting for their religion, and essentially all other religions, the Satanic Temple is the most level headed group of believers out there. Even if he wasn't ready to lead this group, Greaves has created a church that has a purpose, which is something myself, and many others, can get behind.
The balance that Lane creates, with the use of pop culture references, talking head interviews of various members of the temple, and live footage of protests, or rallies, it makes for a total package. In each interview, we begin to see how the fundamental believers struggle to continue their fight, like many religions, there is a split when one member feels they are not pushing the message hard enough. If Penny Lane reveals anything it is that no matter what the beliefs are, the entire concept of religion does not work because people are flawed, no matter who you bow down to.
There's plenty of reasons or excuses that those who believe in religion, or are unwilling to open up to a subject like the church of satan, will stay away from Penny Lane's film. I hope you will be willing to open up to watching a documentary of this nature. Hail Satan? is an enlightened, clear eyed, and engaging documentary. For all the times that someone says that there is never conversation between us and we are divided, ask them if they have seen Hail Satan? I'm certainly glad someone is fighting to keep our churches and states separate. If that means we have to Hail Satan, then...Hail Satan.
Written by: Leo Brady