REVIEW: Ave Satanas (2017)

Writer and director Emir Skalonja puts out movies so fast that this site is rapidly becoming a FoxTrot Productions review page. The fact of the matter is, though, that Skalonja can put out films at a rapid-fire rate, and still produce some of the best movies the underground has to offer today.

His latest, a 13-minute short called Ave Satanas, is probably his most ambitious in terms of visual style. It’s so great as a viewer to watch a filmmaker to have several films, all fall into the same genre, yet all have such unique voices, looks, and styles. It’s actually refreshing that not only does Skalonja make films extremely fast and for extremely cheap money, but they come out fantastic.

Ave Satanas starts with a woman, Mary (Nicole Skalonja) in the woods. She is meeting with a Satan worshipping witch, Evanora (the stand-out Krystal Shenk) and explains that she has been raped by two men. She is asking for help. She seeks vengeance and, even though she may have to pay with her life, she is prepared to do so if it means retribution. The dialog is bizarre, like a mix of Old English and Cradle of Filth song lyrics. It’s like a horror filmmaker’s tribute to black metal – dark and depraved, brutal but beautiful.

The film’s runtime keeps the story to a minimum, but the deaths are still to-the-max. Using Satanic incantations to force the rapists to mutilate themselves and each other, we are treated to disembowelments (which at this point might be a safe bet to call a Skalonja trademark), eye gouging, and even a nasty shave that leaves flesh on the floor, all courtesy of special FX director Sean Patrick Saramak, who has worked on previous films with Skalonja.

Saramak has an eye (ha!) for good gore, and even in this black & white short film, the gags are grotesque and fun, including the bloody crucifix masturbation scene. Sure, it’s a 40 year old gag from The Exorcist, but that doesn’t make it any less perverse (Or sexy? Hey, it’s your kink.) in 2017.
While it’s true that the subject matter is bleak and the style a visual depression, the short as a whole was terrific. Going with black and white made for a good choice in this story, with its Satanic themes and gothic tones. The cast, as is true with all Skalonja films, are mostly newcomers, although both the rapists (played by Jose Rivera and Brian Warden) played the part of nasty, murderous (and murdered) men quite well.

Overall, it’s another great fun from an up and coming filmmaker who continues to impress with his abilities to work fast and fearless in the indies.

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