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Saturday, March 11, 2023

‘Satan Wants You’ SXSW Review – Compelling Documentary Chronicles Destructive Roots of Satanic Panic

The early ’80s Satanic Panic phenomenon frequently spills over into horror thanks to the wave’s systematic targeting of the genre and heavy metal. Recent horror comedies or even the latest “Stranger Things” season highlight the absurdity of moral panic mania founded in baseless claims of Satanic ritual abuse. Documentary Satan Wants You chronicles one of the prominent causes of Satanic Panic, resulting in a compelling mystery unsettling for its overarching reach.

The 1980 novel Michelle Remembers is attributed as a harbinger of Satanic Panic. Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his long-term patient and eventual wife Michelle Smith coauthored the book, detailing therapy sessions that uncovered repressed memories of lurid Satanic rituals and abuse Smith endured. The book became a bestseller, bolstered by daytime TV, and spread the idea that Satanists could be everywhere (including your neighborhood) like wildfire and doused gasoline on moral panic.

Directors Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams meticulously deconstruct the sordid saga of Smith and Pazder. First, by establishing Smith and Pazder’s backgrounds, then through chilling audio recordings of the therapy sessions, where a hypnotized Smith eerily recounts nightmares and traumatic memories of torture and murder. Talking heads toggle between experts, authorities, and Smith and Pazder’s family members. It’s the latter that offers the most insight into the enigmatic nature behind Smith and Pazder’s relationship from origins to Michelle Remembers’ debunking.

Satan Wants You incorporates actual footage from the Satanic Panic era to illustrate the book’s wide-reaching impact. Clips of daytime talk shows, interviews, and additional news footage demonstrate how Smith and Pazder’s peculiar connection benefitted them while wreaking havoc upon society at large, let alone those in their immediate orbit. The way Horlor and Adams connect Margaret Kelly Michaels and the Wee Care Nursery School school abuse trial in 1987 effectively underscores the insidious and enduring consequences of Satanic Panic.

It’s Horlor and Adams’ simultaneous micro and macro overview of Pazder and Smith that impresses the most. The way they present a portrait of their subjects on an intimate level through familial accounts while providing a bird’s eye view of the book’s fallout underscores how history’s worst moments often germinate from tiny, seemingly benign origins. Bizarre therapy sessions between a therapist and his depressed patient didn’t just snowball into a sordid, ill-advised relationship; it created a global witch hunt founded in false truths and discredited practices.

How Horlor and Adam tie together all the various threads make for a compelling watch. The way the filmmakers present the story behind Michelle Remembers is filled with salacious details, personal accounts, and shocking collateral damage that keeps you deeply engaged, even if it takes a brief introductory period to acclimate with all of the information it tosses out at once. Occasional supporting cases leave you longing for a follow up, too. By the documentary’s end, Horlor and Adam more than succeed in presenting a startling reality, both past and present. Satan Wants You doesn’t just unveil disturbing truths behind a bygone era; it’s a cautionary tale for our current age of rampant misinformation.

Satan Wants You made its world premiere at SXSW.

The post ‘Satan Wants You’ SXSW Review – Compelling Documentary Chronicles Destructive Roots of Satanic Panic appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3752858/satan-wants-you-sxsw-review-compelling-documentary-chronicles-destructive-roots-of-satanic-panic/

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