HAIL SATAN? (2019)

The most fascinating thing about this documentary is that going into it you likely have these very entrenched cultural ideas about what Satanism is, and you very quickly learn that none of it is in alignment with what The Satanic Temple actually practices or stands for.

In fact, many of those who regard themselves as defacto Christians might actually be surprised to know that they have much more in common with a bunch of secular trolls who formed their religion on the principles of humour, postmodernism, performance, absurdism, community, transparency and the time-honoured tradition of Keeping The Bastards Honest.

Aside from a brief history lesson on the modern interpretations of Satanism and the formation of a fledgling religious organisation, the bulk of the film follows the group as they go about petitioning for the installation of a statue of Baphomet alongside a motif of the Ten Commandments that is being built in a public space — their argument running along the lines of religious freedom that no single ideology should take dominance over others, and should the Commandments be removed then they will withdraw their statue in accordance with their own principle.

It’s funny, in a seriously comical way that belies a mischevious streak to those who would call themselves Satanists while advocating for the right of others to call them out on their own bullshit. They don’t want to convert anybody, they just want everyone have the freedom to be themselves.

It’s a complicated worldview and well worth the watch because as strange as a foreign ritual can appear to someone on the outside, it’s actually far less challenging to grasp than you might think.

It’s on Netflix now. Recommended.

WILD WILD COUNTRY (2018)

The first on a long backlog of Things Thom Meant To Watch But Is Just Now Getting To is this Netflix documentary charting the rise and fall of a commune in Oregon during the 80s.

An absolutely fascinating look into an absurdly ambitious project, even more so when you consider the disconnect between the fears the locals had of being overrun by an incoming foreign culture they didn’t understand and… well… *gestures broadly at The United States*.

Just the logisitics alone of building such a thing in so little time is captivating, even considering the darker turn things inevitably take.

It’s six eps at around an hour apiece, really starts to twist the knife about halfway through.

Definitely worth a look.