The Relentless are the biggest band in the world, even though their music sounds like it belongs in the 80s. Led by charismatic singer Johnny Faust (Andy Biersack), the Relentless have just released their debut album, American Satan. Now, they’re touring the country, doing every drug they can get their hands on and every groupie that stops by their hotel. The moral guardians say that The Relentless are a bad influence and are leading their children into Satanism. For once, the moral guardians are right. Back when they were just a struggling band in Los Angeles, The Relentless made a deal with Satan (Malcolm McDowell). All they had to do was sacrifice the lead singer of a rival band (played by former teen idol Drake Bell) and all their dreams would come true. However, if Johnny Faust had bothered to study his namesake, he’d know better than to make a deal with the devil.
The best thing about American Satan is that it was obviously made by people who know the music industry. All of the details at the start of the film, with the Relentless struggling to get noticed and having to hit the streets and sell tickets to their own show, felt true. It helps that most of the members of the Relentless were played by actual musicians. What they lacked in acting talent, they made up for with authenticity. The music industry is a tough business to break into, regardless of how good or bad your band is. After watching Johnny and the Relentless struggle with crooked promoters and unsympathetic label owners, it was believable that they would consider signing a deal with the devil.
Much like the band, the movie lost its way after the contract with the devil was signed and official. The rioting, the groupies, and the drugs were all too predictable and the movie just became The Dirt with Satan replacing Ozzy. American Satan seems to be building up to an epic conclusion but it never seals the deal. Instead, it just ends with a whimper, as if no one was sure where the story was supposed to be heading. Still, any movie that finds roles for Malcolm McDowell, Bill Duke, Goldberg, and Denise Richards can’t be all bad.
At its worse, American Satan is an anti-climatic take on the Faust legend. At its best, its Tipper Gore’s worst nightmare.