Directed by: Steve J. Adams and Sean Horlor
Running Time: 88 minutes
Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Children are the greatest non-violent weapon humans have ever had. In 2020-21, my social media was being spammed with #savethechildren. Sounds noble. Besides, who hates children and wishes them ill will? Unfortunately, the #savethechildren people on social media were ignorant to the reasoning behind the hashtag. All these #savethechildren people were suckers for Q’Anon, a conspiracy theory about how the world’s elites are eating, raping, beating, sodomizing, and killing children. Not only children, but newborn infants. While it sounds too crazy to believe, “Satan Wants You,” is a reminder that we’re constantly doomed to repeat an inherent part of our history, believe stupid crap.
If you haven’t heard about the Satanic Panic of the 80s and early 90s, it’s kind of like Pizzagate for the pre-Internet age. They even had their own hashtag before hashtags, having people say “Believe the Children.” The insanity kicked off in 1980 with the book, “Michelle Remembers,” where Canadian Michelle Smith, with the help of her then-psychiatrist at the time, remembered buried memories. Those memories were of being kidnapped, caged, beaten, sexually assaulted, raped repeatedly and forced to eat babies along with other Satanists in a ritual meant to summon the Lord of Darkness himself. Makes for an interesting fiction novel, but “Michelle Remembers” was touted as a real life encapsulation of a secret cabal right under society’s nose.
“Satan Wants You” doesn’t dig around in every nook and cranny, but it’s an incredibly entertaining and serviceable documentary on the Satanic Panic, for those who know nothing about and those like me who could stand to learn a little bit more, including the interesting tidbit later in the documentary about how insurance companies may have saved the day. The documentary’s focus is on how such a perverse lie was able to spread around the U.S. like a new strain of COVID-19, while examining the possibilities of why Michelle would remember…a lie.
Michelle’s psychiatrist, Lawrence Pazder, eventually became her lover and husband. It doesn’t take an HR consultant for most people to recognize a doctor and patient hooking up is the biggest ethical red flag you could potentially spot. The documentary seems to imply more wrong with Pazder than it does Michelle, as it talks with his family members about how he abandoned them for one of his patients. It details how Pazder had a fascination with the perceived weirdness of other cultures and traditions, and how that kind of got channeled through his sessions with Michelle. In my personal belief, I think he was a sexual deviant and Michelle’s recollections were simply part of his fetish.
But what about Michelle? It’s easy to pin the blame on the person spinning these lies, but the documentary treats everyone fairly, including Michelle. If anything, she is a victim to Pazder’s delusions of grandeur, because he envisioned himself becoming famous with her recounting of the alleged demonic occurrences. She also was seeking psychiatric help because she had endured a miscarriage. So in a vulnerable position, she was most likely persuaded by Pazder. A lot of this is my own musings based on the film because “Satan Wants You” is so balanced and thoughtful in its approach. The film doesn’t look to demonize or point the finger of blame at anyone particularly. Unfortunately we can only blame ourselves, especially since history shows that anytime there’s a crisis of faith or a newfound religion, one side attempts to demonize and disparage that group with lascivious lies involving children. For a harmful conspiracy theory to flourish, it takes a village of idiots.
For those who are interested in the Satanic Panic, “Satan Wants You” is a must-watch, even for those who may not know anything about it. At times it feels like it doesn’t say enough while at the same time giving us enough information to completely understand and digest the whole damn mess. You may find yourself wondering aloud during the film, “How the hell do people believe this?” Well, just wait until 2060 when we release a film about all the morons who thought a billionaire narcissist was going to save all the babies from demonic Jews in positions of power eating babies or how Lil Nas X is the Anti-Christ or how social media campaigns never helped children.