Banshee Chapter Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by 101 Films
Directed by Blair Erickson
Written by Blair Erickson and Daniel J. Healy
2013, 87 mins, Rated 18 (UK)
Katia Winter as Anne Roland
Ted Levine as Thomas Blackburn
Michael McMillian as James Hirsch
Monique Candelaria as Patient 14
I actually jumped out of my skin. Just as I was about to condemn Banshee Chapter as yet another bloody found footage horror film, a thing happened that almost made me fill my underpants. That's the thing about low expectation – it can lead to a very real shock if you're not careful.
Investigating the disappearance of an old friend (played by the eminently likeable Michael McMillian from The Hills Have Eyes 2 and True Blood) an ambitious young journalist follows his trail into the midst of government conspiracy, where she discovers mind altering drugs, black eyed demons and a very laid back Ted Levine. Even better, it's not really a found footage movie! Following its surprisingly scary opening, it took me a shamefully long time to notice the switch from found footage to more conventional filmmaking. All that time, I had assumed that the characters were just being really rude, ignoring their cameraman. In between the main story, Ted Levine and a sprinkling of (yes, there is a little) found footage, there's also a moment or two which genuinely made me jump. Banshee Chapter is, at times, really unsettling.
It's weird – I've seen everything from Martyrs through to A Serbian Film, but nothing has made me squeal so far like this, the most unlikely of scary movies. There's some really good imagery to its scare sequences, and a moment at the start that sets the tone very well. That said, I also laughed five times at Keith Lemon: The Film, so it's not as though such physical reactions are a guarantor of quality. And beyond its surprising shocks, Banshee Chapter isn't anything special.
There's a good story and some nice casting (Levine is a great catch) but not all that much to differentiate the film from every other low budget horror film out there. Sure, I jumped a couple of times, but, anticipating that, you probably won't. After all, to quote the repulsive Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory fame, “once a mind is pre-blown, it cannot be re-blown.” I'd like to blow Sheldon Cooper the fuck up, but his (big bang) theory is sound. I suppose he's a doctor for a reason. That is to say, now that you expect to be scared by Banshee Chapter, you won't be, remotely. At least you have Ted Levine to keep you occupied though.
Ted Levine, who elevates the film to another level. Despite being up to his neck in government conspiracy, surrounded by demons with weird eyes and a probably imminent death, Levine takes the time to recline on the hood of a car and not look remotely fazed while all around him are dead, dying or trying to cause him to be either one of those things. There's also a moment in which he uses a walkie-talkie, which made me recall his underrated Joyride, for some reason. The surprises extend to behind the camera, where occasional Mister Spock and supervillain Zachary Quinto is listed as producer. It may not be great, but the sum of its parts is too much to dismiss offhand entirely.
Supposedly based on true events (oh, that's what they all say) Banshee Chapter is, for its flaws, worth checking out. It doesn't do anything new or even anything particularly special, but it may just surprise you.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.