Release: October 13, 2017
Screenplay: Ash Avildsen and Matty Beckerman
Director: Ash Avildsen
Running Time: 111 minutes
Starring: Andy Biersack as Johnny Faust, Ben Bruce as Leo Donovan, Drake Bell as Damien, Booboo Stewart as Vic Lakota, Jesse Sullivan as Lilly Mayflower, Malcom McDowell as Mr. Capricorn, and Mark Boone Junior as Elias
Review contains spoilers.
American Satan is the story of a young rock band who play a form of music that would offend anyone with a functioning set of ears who sell their souls to Malcom McDowell in exchange for Deathklok-like success.
American Satan is an artifact of the early 2000s. The creation of a man who is clearly pining for the bygone days of his early 20s, when he was wearing impossibly large Jncos, listening to Limp Bizkit, and awkwardly hitting on teenage girls outside of the local Hot Topic. A man whose only exposure to cinema came in the form of mallcore rock and roll vampire tale Queen of the Damned, the jump cut nightmare that was Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, and possibly House of 1000 Corpses. Run these cinematic influences through the filter of a few too many episodes of Behind the Music and the short attention spans of the Ritalin generation and you’ve got this flick.
Put simply, American Satan is a dull, hyperactive, unwatchable mess. However, given the film’s pedigree, I don’t think making a good film was of primary concern to writer/director, and Sumerian Records founder, Ash Avildsen. It becomes abundantly clear shortly into the film that this was likely never intended to be an entertaining movie, but rather was intended to be an extended commercial for a bevy of bland Sumerian Records artists. In scene after scene, the background music (which mostly consists of bland nu metal revival tripe) is boosted so loud as to practically drown out the rest of the film’s audio. Almost as if to scream, “hey, don’t pay attention to that, pay attention to this instead.”
At least, I certainly hope this was intended to be a thinly veiled commercial. If it was intended as a serious film, then it is even worse. The story is paced like it was written by a 15-year-old with ADHD who was fed a steady diet of coffee spiked with methamphetamine. There are more jump cuts than a Youtube skeptic video. What’s even worse is the repeated uses of deus ex machina. Top this off with the characters being generally unlikeable rock and roll cliches who spout “edgelord” tripe masquerading as dialogue. This is what makes it exceptionally ridiculous when it seems like the filmmakers want the viewer to feel sorry for Johnny when he ODs, or when his girlfriend leaves him. If you want that to be the case, your characters have to have some redeeming qualities, don’t they? They can’t just be the living embodiment of every early 2000s metal forum troll who typed “LiKe tHiS.” This is, of course, to say nothing of the acting. No one in this movie puts in anything that could even be remotely confused for a passable performance. I wasn’t expecting much from Andy Biersack or Ben Bruce. Rock musicians, by and large, can’t act worth a damn. They work fine in small cameos, but I certainly would never want one to carry a film. Malcom McDowell, who I believe is the most seasoned actor out of the cast here, just seems checked out and on auto pilot until the cash is in his hand. This goes for Mark Boone Junior as well.
If one thing is abundantly clear from viewing American Satan, it is that the Sumerian Records crew need to stay far, far away from the cinema. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to be found in this film. This is not even in the realm of so bad it’s good, this is just bad.