Satan Wants You premiere (movie review)

A few weeks ago there was a piece on the local news about Satanic Panic in the 80’s and how it was related to the island.  That’s where this starts, in a way. Click here to skip directly to the review of the doc itself

However, there’s some backstory on why this story was of particular interest:
Growing up here on the south island, I had heard a couple of rumors from gen X teachers who felt like being oracular like that; I had heard that “the illuminati” (probably meaning, the masons) secretly controlled/built Victoria and the reason the city makes no sense in terms of road placement* is that the whole thing is an elaborate pentagram, the five points of which are secret entrances to a network of catacombs running through the living rock under the city.  I have heard that Ross Bay Cemetery hides one of the entrances, and also the well-known shooting gallery in an abandoned building at the foot of Chinatown was supposedly another one of the entrances (I think that one was actually on Vic ghost tours or maybe I’m confusing how, if you went and looked, it used to look like the Portland sewer Tony Bourdain toured one time on No Reservations).  That whole chunk of Chinatown is a parking lot now, I think.  Soliciting stories about or photos of the entrance/passage to the underground that was there.  I fully heard it was a thing but I checked too late.
*local lore via my father is that they simply paved the old footpaths and horsecart routes (editorial: rather than making an artificially coherent and easily memorized grid by going through half the fine old houses of the fine old families in the city to put in paving).

I never really thought much about it–I wasn’t a particularly devoted highschool Satanist, which is to say, if you’d asked me if I was a Christian I would have said “no but I like the bibble–hail Satan, baby” or similar, but I didn’t really dabble in like, reading DeVay or having black masses, because it seemed like either a waste of time or a bit of bad luck in the making. I am superstitious about some things; when someone I knew went off to the woods with people “to summon a demon,” I opted out.  But this sort of thing was definitely part of the background fabric of the place at the time; in y2k it felt as if people had been sharing these silly stories about the island since Victoria was actually alive and ruling the empire from London.  Somehow it all reminded me of the story of Brother 12 and Madam Z, as well.  We islanders, the gen Xers mainly, seem to just generally enjoy that whole “bleeding edge of the West itself” thing the PNW has going.  That Twin Peaks vibe.  That this-is-Pickton-country cache, if you will: “it’s still dangerous here, so I’m tough to be here–anything can happen, even the devil itself might have a vacation home right under your feet.”

So, the chek 6 segment ended with a bit about how some local filmmakers had made a documentary about how actually that whole thing in the 80’s about Satanic child abuse taking place in cults with fronts as daycares, started in Victoria–which, I’ve learned a great deal since the aughts about the 80’s/90’s Satanic Panic in the U.S. context from various video essays about how it relates to nerd/d&d persecution, as well as to the trials of various heavy metal bands I got into in my 20’s, and even how it relates to homophobia/queer persecution today, as well as anti-goth bullying.  I was fascinated by cults in the 90’s and remember reading a book about known cults but also known non-cults like the various daycare workers accused of ritually abusing children in the name of the devil 10 years prior.  (Hey, for one reason or another those kids felt like daycare was torture enough to readily capitulate all manner of crimes against the people in charge of them; I certainly was in daycare in the 80’s in Victoria and I might indeed have been easy to prod into producing ever more extravagant versions of the staff there being all-business and mean; I switched daycares actually to a place on the peninsula in ’89 and you couldn’t have paid me in cupcakes to roll on those ladies, the place was heaven to me.)

Immediately I became interested in the documentary, which was noted to be premiering in Vic in a matter of days.  I had to help with a move that weekend and so wasn’t able to make it to the screening.  In fact, it was my girlfriend’s move and she agreed to marry me a while ago and I immediately wanted to know what her vision for the wedding was and she said everyone in red and black and it’s on Samhain, and I said we should do it at Ross Bay Cemetery because I was instantly working around a Satanic Panic theme for it.  So, I had really wanted to catch this doc and maybe get some more intel about it all, use it as a moodboard maybe, depending on the whole vibe of the thing. Inspo, right?

Luckily, the move was only to Vancouver, and naturally one of the first things I did upon arrival was figure out what was upcoming at the Rio.  Serendipity!  They were hosting Satan Wants You in two days!

Fast forward to, my girlfriend (fiancée) and I are downtown in the area of the Rio Theatre.  There’s a community day event happening in pokemon go and I’m trying to Froakie out my trade inventory.  This game is actually based around NFTs, each pokemon you catch is just an NFT.  Anyway, while I was doing that I went to get tickets.  I guess every other time I’ve been to the Rio my ex bought the tickets, because there is no ticket booth at the Rio.  You MUST buy them online.  Here, check this out, it’s not just me:

boomer meme about online ticket sales checks out on tumblr to 100k+ likes/reblogs

I really don’t understand not assigning staff to take money at the door, you guys.  It’s a cash-on-site mitigation tactic?   Ok well, at least it’s not the bandits shooting you in the foot financially if you’re doing it yourself.  But anyway.

Our curtain opens, so to speak:

I love the Rio.  Theatres like this are such a hub, I’ve made many memories of many kinds in them; at the Roxy in Victoria or in Toronto at the long defunct Underground Cinema on Spadina or at Revue over on Roncy.  My ex says matinees at the Rio where its just you and a stranger watching some weird old movie you both love is a cool way to meet people.

I kind of want to just dump the other clips from after the screening, where the filmmakers do Q&A.  But I guess this is where I should pencil in my thoughts about the movie.  This is the part of the story where I watch it, after all. Okay.

Well, it gives A&E #truecrime vibes all day and all night; It’s like City Confidential but with a solid pretence of being less salacious.  That’s what’s up.  But, if a music video director who came of age on Björk albums and Sarah McLachlan had been heavily in charge of the visuals.  If I had to boil down the aesthetic/editing it would be NBC’s Hannibal meets American Justice, but not as a fusion, more like a Frankenstein.  The ethos is far closer to American Justice.  I dunno, it all works for me, I’m fine with all this.  It’s somewhat more elevated than simply being the sum of its parts but that’s as kind as I’ll be: “somewhat more.”  I wish it had borrowed more from Michael Moore, if you want to know.

The story told is, some bitterly unsung dowdy rando who grew up in Vic fell in love with her therapist and realized his desire to be famous for doing something groundbreaking, like recovering memories of childhood abuse, could bring them closer together.  It worked so well he ended up getting divorced and marrying her, and they went on the talkshow circuit together to sell the book about how crazy her recovered memories were and hype the idea that evil people were doing this all over the place secretly, all the time, and the survivors just repressed it all but could be identified and used as witnesses/testimony against the evil people.  This case and the developed methodology was supposed to achieve nothing short of fixing all that festers within the psyche of Western civilization–or, as some would prefer to think, all around and within its margins, its incursive periphery.  The ordained shepherd of mental health and social hygiene was finally among us, in the 80’s of course, when else.  (You know what they say, Ronald Wilson Reagan: 6 6 6.  Not that any of these people hated Reagan, but they all sensed something direly rotten about the decade nonetheless.  Even the neocons.  They just couldn’t tell that the great beast of the age was (and is) greed aka capitalism, not “degenerates” spreading “degeneracy”–usually a byword for some kind of anticapitalism or antifascism, eg free love, queer love, marxism etc).
The portrait painted of the pair of them is damning but also deeply concerned with nuance; neither party is unscathed by the lens of the film.  Spoiler: the shrink is dead now but his ex wife isn’t, and she was a major source.  (A lot of people very close to the couple agreed to give their perspectives; they all have great ambivalence even with their deep credulity of certain things, and overarching compassion for their relative or friends who started this all, ruining lives across the continent in the aftermath.)  This is, if you tilt it, her story: the story of how two narcissists (an overt-covert dyad; reminded me of my parents, their relationship had the same trajectory as these two precisely) cucked the fuck out of her nearly 4 decades ago.  She finally got them back; as the filmmakers said in the Q&A, she had every receipt.

So, that’s the movie.  Let me show you the parts of the Q&A I got:

I mean, pretty boilerplate.  Based on what was said about how someone came at them about discrediting survivors during the Victoria screening, which was a full house, I got the sense that they were not ready to have a deep discussion about any of it.  I didn’t bother them with my input, which is disorganized and personal and not even very easy to parse even given reflection time.  So let me just dump it on you, we’ll start with the easy stuff:

This story is absolutely unhinged from a personal standpoint, for two reasons; (1) by now in my life I’m a diagnosed psychotic who spent 2020-2021 living alone in an RV in the woods hearing voices in my head telling me alllllll kinds of stories about alllllllll kinds of things; for a while the voices thought they’d try to see if they could get me to buy that I had been the victim of a devil-worshiping masonic child abuse cult run by my parents.  I wont go into great detail, but, there is no evidence one way or another as far as anyone has ever made me aware.  And someone would have to make me aware; if you’ve ever taken benzos with wine you know how easy it is to actually “cast obliviate” (one for the terfs) on a body.  Anything could technically have happened to anyone without them remembering.  You could be abducted and raped and returned in roughly the same shape and never ever know until they showed you the blackmail tapes (or, as the voices in my head said, the “proper masonic child care instructional video series” I starred in as a toddler; this could apparently be ordered by catalogue, along with near-clones of me made using my stolen sperm, sold as fully-realistic robots because my dad wanted people to believe he was a great inventor).  This is entirely within the realm of the possible.  To some people that would make it highly plausible.  I’m not those people.  I blame a mischievous tulpa or perhaps a mortal wizard for telling me the stories in the first place.  Until I see some form of incontrovertible proof, of course.  Meantime I’m planning my wedding at Ross Bay, where you’ll find many masonic monuments–spooky!

Briefly getting back to the receipts of the story at hand:  during the time Michelle was supposedly abducted and being tortured, she claims to have been an unofficial missing person, living off-grid with her abusers.  The ex wife of the shrink did what the shrink never bothered with: due diligence.  She went and looked for a linear record of Michelle being visible to the system.  She’s in yearbooks and shit during the years she said she was in some kind of dungeon the whole time.  Even the cops in the doc being interviewed about the Satanic Panic cases they had to sift through at the time, are mostly talking about not being able to find proof of specific claims by looking for proof that they were true, and therefore finding the claims dubious when it failed to pan out over and over; it’s all about cop-sense.  They’re never talking about how they just decided to look for evidence that directly contradicted the claims.

(2) Here’s where shit gets wackier for me:

My ex who lives in van supported me before and after I was put on antipsychotics and stopped constantly screaming about nazi mason pedophiles raping my clones and eating their own gay children as BBQ because of eugenics. Now, it happens that we both know a guy who’s on the run from the illuminati pedos, himself, by his reporting; he’s always poised and lucid, and he says that he grew up in a Satanic ritual abuse situation at the hands of his immigrant parents who were wrapped up in some kind of state-level nazi cult.  He sends her stuff like this (which I actually can’t even watch, I get literally 3 seconds in and can’t handle the vibes) and is like “this is the exact shit I went through, these documentarians are on the same trail I am.”  Like he has clear, vivid memories of sexual abuse and says that there are implications of some kind of ritualism and it’s somehow tied to a hierarchy of systemic forces.  He uses the word Satanic to describe the adults involved.  I’m not clear what the precise definition of that is for him; somehow religion is involved I suppose, possibly some kind of intentional inversion of Christian language and symbolism.  A lot of people say masonic instead of Satanic with that same definition.  Based on known/publicly-accessible masonic doctrine it’s not hard to see why; they’re not deeply invested in spreading Christian ideology so much as secular ideals of “enlightenment,” and historically the Catholics in particular have been explicit in calling their non-Christian culture-building efforts unholy.  A pope said, they’re a Satanic cult.  My grandpa was a mason, by the way.  No one in my family ever went to church except to check in and have a giggle once every 20 years, far as I’ve ever seen.  But, I, a known mason brat, only remember violent child abuse, altho, it was all forms of punishment favored by BDSM doms (“one! two!…”), so…..uhhhhhh. moving on.  (They REALLY didn’t want this taking over the Q&A, amirite?)

So, here is someone who I’ve personally met IRL multiple times.  He’s even lost housing for never shutting up about this; people hate to hear it.  And, in no way is he a raving madman.  He has the dispostion of a very shy chemtrailer; suspicious and even spiteful of all the fluoride zombies who dgaf because they can’t, too lobotomized.

I got kind of a heavy fluoride vibe from the whole presentation.  The point of the doc is, all this talk of “Satan”, these witch-hunts that expand to include anyone the religious and nonreligious conservatives alike want exterminated or cleansed from society, is just callous and shallow opportunism.  Like these filmmakers are queer-aligned and gay gen Xers, so because they’ve ambiently been on the persecution-end of Satanic Panic, they gave us this:

scoobydoo unmasking meme summarizing the didactic thrust of satan wants you But then they washed their hands of the whole thing, like “phew there were no CSA rings after all! It was all old man Inquisition!”

Meanwhile, the phrase Epstein Island rings bells, right?  Self-obscuring justice-obstructing CSA rings are a reality.  THE FLOURIDE BRAINROT IS REAL, NO?  PRINCE ANDREW WAS FUCKIN KIDS!  NO ONE HAS ASSASSINATED ANY OF THESE PEOPLE.  EVERYONE’S LIKE, “OH, WEIRD.”  What happened to “going to the pizza place”??  Is that for when we’re actually sure there’s nothing there and we’re just inserting ourselves into a situation for clout?

Is MacCaulay Culkin’s band really just about ~nostalgia?  He’s got his bunny ears up for something.

What the fuck happened to Aaron Carter?  What REALLY happened to Tony Bourdain?

What happened to Hunter S Thompson.

…who killed the electric car?

…who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?

 

Anyway I told my ex–who is an avowed Satanist ever since her own shitty Catholic childhood in rural Nova Scotia (she was going to go to the screening but forgot, I assumed she didn’t need a reminder)–all about the tenor of the doc and she was outraged that anyone would place blame on Michelle for her experience of psychiatric abuse.  I’m too busy projecting my mom on her to feel that way, but I think my ex’s take is exceptionally important to end on, actually.  It was that dude’s responsibility to not fuck his patient.  And given that she’s still alive and refused to participate in the film, it might have been the filmmaker’s responsibility to not shoot ~tastefully shadowy recreations of the two of them in naked embrace on the sessionroom floor, just because they agree with the shrinks first wife–who DID talk to them–that his second wife was an utter menace.

I don’t think they were wrong to agree that she’s a menace, but, what if they were? I’m all for honoring people’s agency, and this doc definitely doesn’t try to frame her as lacking agency in the whole shitshow this dude put on to get famous.  But, what if it’s irrelevant, and this was legitimately the dude’s fault exclusively? And she really was molested and pathologically elaborated on it past the point of reality out of a desperate need for affection and approval that he was supposed to be trained specifically to recognize and be professional about?  The movie makes him out to be a patsy, her patsy.  Slave to his own ambitions.

Maybe that’s a pretty controversial take, you guys.

 

(But you sure did the shrink’s first wife proud, and lowkey? I was living off her methodically-arrived-at catharsis. Michelle just wasn’t a girl’s-girl, you know?  I guess the ultimate moral is that no matter your salary or training, your labor will never be as productive or prompt as a person with authentic motivation working PRO-fucking-BONO.)

(It’s almost like the cops are controlled by my parents who told them they had to eat their kids and they just don’t investigate the other people who did the same thing.  That’s how otherwise-incoherently incompetent they are at “solving crime.”)

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