Free speech advocates the world over want to know: Can you shout Satanic Panic in a crowded theater?

We can’t be sure, as local regulations limited our Satanists-only screening of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It last week to just 20 seats, leaving us plenty of room to socially distance from each other while rhetorically distancing ourselves from the content of the film.

It had been a long time since many of our Bay Area Satanists enjoyed a night at the movies, and with the bulk of our membership now handily vaccinated (thanks, Satan) we took the opportunity to rent a theater in San Bruno and treat them to an outing.

But of course, we had other motivations as well: Namely, we wanted to be able to tell the film exactly what we thought of it.

The third movie to bear the “Conjuring” title, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It claims to be based on the true story of convicted murderer Arne Johnson, who in the earliest days of the Satanic Panic stabbed his landlord to death and tried to argue in court that he was demonically possessed at the time.

The state of American courts being what they are, shrewd observers are naturally skeptical of the claims of police and prosecutors, and often reluctant to accept convictions at face value. …but in this case the defense’s counter claim is that Satan committed the killing, so actually we’re pretty sure Arne did it.

In reality, Johnson was not allowed to advocate the devil in court, so instead his defense parlayed self-defense claims to create reasonable doubt. The jury gave him ten years for manslaughter, but he was out in five with time off for white privilege.

That doesn’t make for much of a movie though, so instead latest Conjuring spends virtually no time on the trial that supposedly inspired it, and instead Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson spend the whole movie chasing after an evil, Dennis Wheatley-style Satanist magician who is assisted by what appears to be the reanimated corpse of actor/singer Meat Loaf.

(Don’t ask us, okay, we didn’t write it.)

This is pretty silly even by Conjuring standards–actually, what ARE Conjuring standards?

Well, at least we had a good time, and were joined by many Satanic Bay Area first-timers who had been waiting out the pandemic for an opportunity to get to know us. Since the movie perhaps tragically beat its opening weekend gross projections by $4 million, it seems we’ll probably be back at it in a couple of years.