If I were to write this review in the style of The Great Satan, it might sound like this:
…NEVERFLAT NARDWORSHIP LIFE ALERT PSYCHONYMPH MUNG DUMPLING CRAIGSLIST BLENDER STEAMPUNK SISYPHUS HYMEN SHOVEL TESTIMONIAL CHEESE WARTS CAT-NEUTERING DRIVETHRU MASSACRE DIAPER CALLOUS CUM FLAMINGO AUTO-BALLCUZI TROUSER DRIZZLE RHODODENDRON INTERSLUT…*
A hysterical, incoherent 75-minute archival compilation, The Great Satan is a masterpiece by the “found footage gods” known as Everything Is Terrible! Founded in 2007, the group has spent more than two decades indexing and editing far-flung VHS tapes retrieved from the shadowy corners of thrift stores. Their first release in several years is an anthology of diabolical material that manifests Anglo-culture’s communal obsession with the devil.
“…an anthology of diabolical material that manifests Anglo-culture’s communal obsession with the devil.”
If you can handle 75-minutes of assaulting, nearly strobing devil-related videos, allow yourself to melt into the insanity of an inexplicable devil’s food. The mere existence of most of the material is baffling. Often it’s impossible to discern whether a clip was slickly manipulated or simply bonkers, like “welcome to our new video: smelling invisible”. Either way, the footage is absolutely remarkable while impossible to properly describe.
Watching this film is a bit like submitting yourself to A Clockwork Orange’s eye-lock torture with ballistic injections of satanic shock. In the study of average shot lengths (Cinemetrics), The Great Satan would have been in the 100th percentile – most shots lasting less than one second and sometimes superimposed over others. If you do sacrifice yourself to this dangerous document, I suggest you keep the power button within pressing distance in case it becomes too much.
As the embodiment of evil, Satan serves as our communal projection of fear. The inhabitants of the film are sometimes sarcastic (“is there something wrong in my abortion clinic?”) but more often wackos (acid-tripping white dread-head scuba divers) and earnest evangelists (“I want you to know something, Satan is a loser!”). According to the timecodes on the home videos, the time is always 6:66 AM or 6:66 PM.
“…NARDWORSHIP LIFE ALERT PSYCHONYMPH MUNG DUMPLING CRAIGSLIST BLENDER STEAMPUNK…”
The Great Satan is a sociological record that serves simultaneously as a laugh-out-loud comedy. Structured by thematic montages on Satanic power, misogyny, teenagers, etc, the film is a full semester of Satan 101 packed into 75 minutes. The structure offers an idea of how audiovisual information might be delivered in the future when our attention spans get shorter and our brains work faster.
Although I was guffawing throughout, my laughs were spiked with a shot of concern for humanity. Like God, Satan is an idea that we’ve manifested into existence through our various expressions of imagined figures. Now he holds a heavy place in our spiritual conscience as the twisted yang to the benevolent lying. If you’ve ever wanted to look directly into the eyes of pure evil, this is your chance, but don’t blame me if you never come back.
The Great Satan (2017) Directed by Lehr Beidelschies, Nick Maier, and Dimitri Simakis.
9 out of 10 Oscars