Review: Island of Lucifer

Apparently there are Satan worshippers even in the small, cosy, safe countries of Scandinavia. When things get a little boring, why not throw in a devil and some blood rituals?

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Why or why not is what the Danish documentary Island of Lucifer (original title: Satankulten på Anholt) tries to find out. Written and directed by Jonas Bech and Kristian Ussing Andersen, the documentary was inspired by Bech finding a “satanic coin” placed near various churches by a group of satan worshippers. Apparently, a satanic cult had been formed on the remote desert island Anholt, midway between the Danish east coast and Sweden. The film follows the crew as they travel through Denmark, trying to find clues to the cult, experts, and ultimately the cult itself.

The Anholt case has been researched more than once since it became known in 1973, but nobody has found the complete truth, which this documentary (some claim it is a mockumentary) shows. Extracting facts from experts or getting a clear picture of what happened on Cheese Hill 40 years ago seems to be a problem for the creators, so the movie shows the crew phoning, driving, walking and sailing around Denmark, trying to locate witnesses, hard evidence and the location itself. The film is thus less a documentary about a Satan cult and more a road movie that depicts the process of making the documentary, which may leave you with a sense of being cheated. However, not being able to access everything one needs to explain and reveal is part of the mystery. Why are so few things known? Has it all moulded away? Those that were in the cult, have they all died of old age or been sacrificed? Are certain powers hiding the truth? Was the cult really a joke? Many questions arise from the limited information that is gathered. Some potential sources of information is left unopened, and I wonder what research skills the crew possessed. Are they journalists, folklore scientists or just film directors?

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The film is clearly shot on a low budget, but the images and sound are more than satisfactory for this kind of project. The length of 59 minutes is also adequate; not only does it feel more documentary-ish that way, but it ensures that tempo and footage selection is just about enough, judging from the problems of the search.

I am most puzzled with the choice of musical theme though.

Rated 6 of 10.

Directed by Jonas Bech and Kristian Ussing Andersen.

Denmark, 2013.


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