Sundance 2024 Review: Realm of Satan

by Andrew Parker

With his first feature length documentary, Realm of Satan, director Scott Cummings takes a cheeky, low-key look at people who “manifest” their desires by praising and worshiping the dark lord to end all dark lords.

None of Cummings’ subjects – found all over the world and in vastly different economic brackets – speak up for themselves in Realm of Satan. Instead, Cummings follows them along on their rather routine (and sometimes uniquely relaxing and reflective) journeys, whether they be multimillionaires with fast cars and lavish estates, a differently abled person who finds strength in his faith, or an everyday day guy putting on ghoulish make-up in the kitchen while his partner calmly empties the dishwasher.

Realm of Satan presents its subjects as “take it or leave it” propositions, which works in the sense that it’s probably how these people would like to be viewed by the world at large. It’s a detraction in a sense that there are obvious contradictions between the tenets of Satanism and how these people conduct themselves. (Really, can any of these people be seen as true hedonists and anarchists? Not especially, no.)

Cummings also has fun riding the edge of what constitutes documentary filmmaking, offering up some fun, fantastical flourishes that lean playfully into stereotypes. Overall, Realm of Satan gets by on the strength of its vision and assembly, even if there are some easily answerable questions around the periphery that remain unexamined. 

Realm of Satan screened as part of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

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