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Film Review: American Satan (2017)

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A young rock band, half of its members from England and half from the U.S., drops out of college and moves to the Sunset Strip to chase their dreams.


When it comes to whether Rock and Roll is the Devil’s music, late comedian Bill Hicks had the perfect response: ‘If it’s a choice between eternal Hell and good tunes, and eternal Heaven and New Kids on the f**king Block … I’m gonna be surfin’ on the lake of fire, rockin’ out.’ Indeed, Satan does appear to have all the best tunes. Or to be exact, coming off the back of American Satan, he has the best musicians in the palm of his hand. Directed by Ash Avildsen (What Now), who co-wrote the script with journalist Marty Beckerman, American Satan is the tale of Faust brought screaming into the modern age and seasoned with a dash of 1980’s rock excessiveness.

Singer Andy Biersack plays the subtly monikered Johnny Faust, a wide-eyed musician who just wants to make it big on the music. When we meet him, however, Faust is a lurching, slurring rock god who looks fit to collapse on stage and American Satan guides down the path to his potential implosion.

In happier days, Faust lives his mom (Denise Richards) and holds down a steady relationship with his high school sweetheart, Gretchen (Olivia Culpo). Alongside his friends, Faust teams up with a couple of British musicians to give it a shot on the mean streets of LA. They’re not completely helpless though as they’re accompanied by their manager, Ricky, played by Game of Thrones’ John Bradley.

A chance encounter with a suave gentleman called Mr. Capricorn (Malcolm McDowell… No, really) leads the group to the kind of instant fame and glory that would make Dethklok blush. Did I say chance encounter? I meant, they’re coerced into killing a rival musician played by Drake Bell. For you see, Mr. Capricorn is in fact… THE DEVIL! A fact he continually bangs on about whether he’s discussing Jay-Z’s lyrics or his shares in Apple. Yes, he’s not very subtle. However, his attitude to being lowkey fits in well with the entire aesthetic of American Satan. For here is a film that has no desire to be subdued. It’s loud, brash, often nude and, quite honestly, I think it knows exactly the kind of film it is.

Being a Faustian drama, Faust’s band fly up the charts but, just as quickly, begin to experience immense negative publicity. If it’s not other bands refusing to play with them out of jealousy, it’s drugs, underage sex and cops killing themselves when they find out their wife and daughters have slept with half the band.

If we allude back to Metalocalypse, what makes American Satan so fun is seeing how, despite everything, the band’s upward trajectory never stops. The band may have more heroin than blood in their veins by the time we get to the final act, but you better believe they’re still making record deals. There are moments when the though crosses you mind that this may all be one big satire aimed squarely at how the media treats ill-behaved celebrities. There’s a good chance that Avildsen and Beckerman are biting their thumbs at people. And if so, brilliant. And if not, then there’s still an opportunity to have fun with what is essentially a leather clad soap opera about the Devil. How often does that come around?

Taking in all the above, you’ll already know if this film is for you. Hell, 30 seconds of the soundtrack will certainly compound your attitude one way or the other. However, even if you’re only willing to keep it at arm’s length, I would still encourage you to give it at least one go. There’s a good chance that you won’t see a more intoxicating party film this year. This has the potential to have ‘cult film’ written all over it. Hunt it down, grab some beverages of your choice and get ready for a  wild ride. Heil Satan! Heil yourselves!

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