A look at the quick rise and influence of the controversial religious group known as The Satanic Temple.
Florida, 2013. Governor Rick Scott signs a bill allowing students to read “inspirational” messages at assemblies and sporting events. In response, a small group of “Satanists” holds a satirical rally on the steps of the state capitol building praising the move as a victory for religious freedom. Dressed in black, fitted with a set of horns, and armed with a flashy fire pyrotechnic effect, a hired actor stands at a podium shouting, “Hail Satan! Hail Rick Scott!” Opening her new documentary, HAIL SATAN? with this seminal moment, Director Penny Lane distills the theatricality and the thesis of The Satanic Temple and sets the stage for the mounting confrontation between church and state. The result is a rollicking documentary that taps into the swelling zeitgeist of the satanic movement in the United States.
We next meet Lucien Greaves (not his real name), the man behind this particular movement. A Harvard graduate, Greaves sets up offices for his organization The Satanic Temple and sets forth to weed out the theocratic root structure that has been taking hold in the United States government since the 50s. The Temple’s message is one of inclusion and religious plurality with a clear division between church and state.
When Sen. Jason Rapert, decides to spearhead the placement of a monument of the 10 Commandments on Capital building grounds in Little Rock Arkansas, The Satanic Temple demands to be granted permission to place a bronze statue of Baphomet on the same grounds. The stage is set for a legalistic battle and a rollicking documentary that examines the history of Satanism, the more activist leaning offshoot known as the Satanic Temple, and the demand for religious pluralism in America.
Lane keeps her documentary light with an irreverent tone that very clearly understands the trolling that the Satanic Temple is engaging in. She also gives viewers a brief history of the birth of The Church of Satan first established by Anton LaVey and how things have evolved from there. Still, the documentary is squarely focused on the astonishing growth of the Satanic Temple and their battle to bring the Baphomet statue to Arkansas. As the years between 2015 and 2018 roll on, we see the organization grow and suffer more than a few problems along the way. We are never kept from the irony of a rebellious organization becoming institutionalized either as they begin to maintain message and even have to kick members out who become a bit too radical.
Does the Satanic Temple get to place their statue on the Capitol grounds in Arkansas? You will have to either watch the documentary or Google the matter to find out. Suffice it to say that the doc is a fearless, honest piece of social activism that has a surprising amount of heart and humor despite the rituals and nudity.
Magnolia Pictures will release HAIL SATAN? in theaters
on Friday, April 19, 2019 in Los Angeles at the Arclight Hollywood
The film will also be out on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 in New York
|Runtime:||1 hr. 35 mins.|