In one of the weirdest and funniest documentaries to come out of the Sundance Film Festival was Hail Satan?. The film, directed by Penny Lane, looks to relitigate America’s growing belief that it is a Christian Nation. While the performance as the anti-Christianity and belief in Satan himself have caused controversy, the church fights for religious freedom across the country. The trailer for the documentary can be found below.
The idea of using Satanism to fight a perceived political injustice makes for some very interesting footage. While the way the point gets made might not be the most diplomatic, it is certainly a very funny approach. The crosscutting between patriotism and the actions of the Church of Satan help to sell the hilarious nature of the events in question.
Director Penny Lane has incredible success over the past few years in the documentary field. Our Nixon was a surprisingly great achievement, combining the personal footage of dozens of white house staffers to craft a behind-the-scenes look at the president. Nuts! was an equally great accomplishment, but thrived on its silliness. On the way, it delivered an extremely interesting portrait of someone that had been mostly ignored by history.
That bodes well for Hail Satan? as a work of satire. Lane never directly makes fun of her subjects and treats them like they’re real people. Instead, she lets the footage speak for itself, and gives the audience the ability to discuss the point that they’re trying to make.
Ultimately the weird and silly documentary stands a chance to make waves upon its release. There’s no doubt that Lane has talent, and this could push her more into the mainstream as a filmmaker. With any luck, this is this can find its way into the documentary race down the road. Even if it doesn’t, let’s enjoy the ride!