Look, calling literal Satan a hottie sounds bad, but before you judge, hear me out. I know the version of the Devil most of us are familiar with is the little red horned man with an oiled goatee, goat legs and a polished pitchfork. But the idea of him being hot isn’t a new thing. He was God’s most beautiful angel, after all. Depictions of Lucifer throughout art history, film, television, and even music have been insatiably thirsty for a very long time. Robert Eggers’ version of the Devil in The Witch runs along a similar vein. Black Phillip’s (Daniel Malik) understated appearance was enough to steal the hearts of us all. Buttery smooth whispers, impeccable dress, a beautiful face cast in shadows. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling some real sympathy for the Devil.
Before we get too hot and bothered ruminating over the bewitching portrayal of Black Phillip, it’s best to look at why Satan is so often depicted as an alluring figure. There is a point to making the devil so sensually seductive. He is the root of all sin, after all, and has a penchant for corrupting those who succumb to temptation. And what better temptation than honeyed words spoken through a beautiful countenance? This beauty Lucifer possesses was never actually specified in the Bible, but it makes sense. Now some of the most famous depictions of Lucifer also depict his alluring form — take Alexandre Cabanel’s “The Fallen Angel” for example. Even the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Belgium fell victim to sexy Satan in the 1840s, having to replace a statue of Lucifer by artist Joseph Geefs because it was too sexy (they then commissioned his brother for a new statue which was, arguably, even sexier).
Satan Is Sexy (There, I Said It)
Thanks to Eggers, Black Phillip can now join the long line of ridiculously attractive versions of Satan throughout history. Right up next to Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled and Tom Ellis in Lucifer. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about his goat form (yet), but in the few minutes he appears before Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) in his human form. His soft whispery voice is seductive, his gentle touch promises the world, and the tiniest peek of his face reveals a beauty unlike any other. The scene leaves a lot of his appearance to our imagination. However, in 2020, we were at last blessed with a full costumed image of our Black Phillip and, suddenly, our imagination was not good enough. He has the perfect amount of allure that I wouldst, too, sign myself over to this man for the taste of butter. Consider my shift removed.
Sexy, swashbuckling appearance aside, Black Phillip isn’t only attractive because of his looks. Lucifer directly translates to “light bringer,” and Black Phillip brought his own shred of light into Thomasin’s life. Let’s be real, did he not save Thomasin in his own twisted and sinister way? Thomasin was a teenage girl trapped in a world that denied the most basic of her human wants and desires, even as she yearns for independence and adult experiences. However, her parents quash these perfectly human desires from her, forcing her into an isolated, Puritan life on a farm on the edges of any sort of community. Thomasin’s inner self is near as impoverished as her family. She is constantly denigrated by her own family, accused of being a witch and a murderer, while it’s truly her family that are the true sinners.
Her father is prideful, brother is consumed with lust, her mother is full of wrath, and the twins are just plain brats. In the end, they are their own undoing, so afraid of being evil that their own mistrust and sins leads to their destruction. Now Thomasin is left with nothing but the options of starvation or crawling back to her old community which will, most likely, accuse her of being a witch, too. She is alone, abandoned by the God, and has seen the aftermath firsthand of what leading a holy life leads to. Then comes the enticing, captivating Prince of Darkness. Her offers her a new family, all the luxuries she could ever long for, and a new religion based on female empowerment in exchange for her soul. It sounds bad when you put it like that, but do you not also sign your soul over to God when you agree to obey and fear Him? Black Phillip offered the one thing any woman trapped in a patriarchal society desires: freedom. I’d say he more than deserves his hot guy status.
The Goat’s Cute, Too
Aside from how incredibly gorgeous human Black Phillip is, I think his goat form deserves an honorable mention too. He may not be the most well-mannered goat, but he’s certainly one of the cutest. Even if Black Phillip didn’t turn into a total babe, I’d probably still sign my soul over just to give his little head a nice pat. Maybe just overlook the fact that he gored William (Ralph Ineson). Who, to be perfectly honest, kinda deserved it after he vilified Thomasin. Black Phillip may not be cute and cuddly in personality, but he sure is in appearance. His role was fulfilled by the adorable goat Charlie in the film, who looks far from the harbinger of doom. Well, depending on who you ask. Ineson and Eggers had a notoriously difficult time wrangling Charlie, who loved to do the exact opposite of what was intended. Charlie even rammed into Ineson on set, dislodging a tendon in his ribs. You might say this is proof he’s not as sweet as he seems. I’d simply say he was deep in character and practicing his method acting. Even his wrangler, Anna Kilch, insists he did well, saying they were “really happy with him.” Sounds like a good boy to me.
You can disagree with me all you want. Say what you will, call this opinion wicked or immoral. Cast your stones. I stand by what I said. And I think you need to admit it to yourself as well. Say it with me: Black Phillip is hot. There’s no need to align yourself to Lucifer’s morals to come to terms with this, there’s no need to sympathize with him, you just need to accept the stone-cold truth. After all, who doesn’t love a bad boy?