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Hail Satan Review: Daring, thought-provoking goodness

Hail Satan? delivers entertaining and thought-provoking insights into The Satanic Temple’s community and paints a clever portrait of diversity and religious freedom.

Hail Satan! After much fictional speculation about the goodness of the evil ones, Peggy Lane’s latest documentary lands to our (Netflix) screens and promises to revolutionise our notions of mischievousness. Hail Satan? chastises common sense and received social norms as it follows the deeds of The Satanic Temple, the first non-theist religious movement injecting the word of Lucifer’s counter-Gospel to the masses. Forget about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and The Good Place. These Satanists are real, and they’re here to stay.

Surprisingly brilliant and delightfully entertaining, Lane’s documentary provides an insightful portrait of what it means to be a Satanist in the second decade of the twenty-first century – and, relieving enough, it doesn’t proselytise the cult of the Dark Lord at all. Unveiling all the trivial little things about TST’s community (from Satanic pseudonyms to dubious studs), Hail Satan? introduces us to the world of the elaborate, self-referential games the converts play to confirm their commitment to the cause. At the end of the day, ‘religion’ comes from the Latin word for ‘bind together’. And what better way to forge lifelong relationships than irreverent group amusement?

Loud and Clear reviews Hail Satan documentary Netflix Sundance statue
Hail Satan? (Netflix)

For being an atheist is, quotation marks, quite a bore. And, in Will (Shakespeare)’s words, a name is but a name. According to TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves, the Temple is nothing but a safe place for those who reject Christian patriarchal society and want to live their best lives and spread an alternative message of love. The question now is: how can we find out whether or not we are Satanists?

Let’s try with a test. Do you want to have fun? Do you believe in universal respect? Do you support the idea of self-determination (should we go ask Sartre about this)? Do you back LGBTQ+ marches? Do you responsibly engage in your local community? Well then my friend, if your answers were ‘yes’, it seems we have a problem. Because you undoubtedly fit into the description that the members of The Satanic Temple provide of themselves. But don’t worry. These post-Satan Satanists seem chill enough people – and great pub companions as well. In fact, you might quite like them. They have a wicked sense of humour, and a mysterious taste for Dungeons & Dragons.

Collating interviews and footage of exemplary moments in the Temple’s recent history, Hail Satan? proves to be an amusing and thought-provoking way of spending your home-cuddling night with comfort food on the side. Who knows what the great masters of philosophy would have thought of these advocates of radical evil! John Milton’s Paradise Lost’s Satan is certainly a much nicer fellow than God is, and he has a certain hyper-sexy Sturm-und-Drang aura. In the end, ‘evil’ is ‘live’ spelled backwards. If you ask the Kabala, this must be the sign of a greater truth.

Therefore, we should be thankful to Lane for bringing us this unconventional work of storytelling and for giving us the chance to think about diversity and integration from a different perspective. Hail Satan? is an eye-opener. And if the name of The Satanic Temple rings a bell, there’s a reason why you might have heard of them before. Back in 2018, TST sued Netflix for stealing the goat-like image of their God and for using it as a prop in their Sabrina show. They reached a settlement. But if you thought that the matter was quite laughable, it’s high time you took this seriously. Because The Satanic Temple’s journey has just started. And they’re ready to go far.

Hail Satan? : Trailer (Magnolia Pictures)

Hail Satan? is now available on Netflix everywhere.

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