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BANSHEE CHAPTER follows investigative journalist, ANNA, researching a missing friend who ingested an undocumented research chemical once tested on civilians by CIA MK-Ultra experiments. The labyrinthine trail of evidence leads her into the disturbing world of black ops chemical tests, unexplained radio transmissions and disfigured entities in the blackness of night. Anna will do anything to uncover what lies behind her friend's disappearance but to her horror the entities are coming after her. Suspense-thriller based on true events shot in stereoscopic 3D staring Katia Winter and Ted Levine Written by
By now, most of us have heard about the government funded (or at least endorsed) MK-ULTRA project from the '60s and '70s, where US agencies ran experiments in mind control on unsuspecting volunteers. All true.
"Banshee Chapter" opens with a statement similar to this and then, in the next title card states: "The results were horrifying." Also true.
Now the question...does Banshee Chapter help flesh this thesis out and perhaps dig deeper into one of the (no doubt many) horrifying self-inflicted chapters in our national history? No, it doesn't. It veers immediately off into SciFi/Horror-land. Which is not such a bad thing...if the story, acting, and virtually all of the directing didn't suck. Which it does.
And THAT sucks because, judging from the first twenty minutes of Blair Erickson's feature debut, Erickson's got it going on. The first third of the film is intriguing plot-wise and there are some genuine jump-in-your-seat jump cuts.
But following the introduction of Ted Levine's character (a gonzo "radical" journalist obviously modeled on Hunter Thompson, minus the cigarette holder) the film falls inexplicably flat. The momentum runs out and the pacing is sluggish...there are too many scenes in the dark with Katia Winter and Levine yelling at each other and even the scares begin to wane: Erickson starts to repeat himself in an endless loop that almost makes you want to turn the film off by the third act.
As for Winter, I found her performance to be a bit too monotone and colorless, though to be honest Erickson really didn't flesh her (or her supposed love-interest, a 2 second plot point, that) character out well enough. We get enough of that background to care in the beginning, but then, it's as if the film is holding back for budgetary reasons. And what they wind up shooting is just same old same old.
For instance, the radio transmissions, which could have been really creepy if they had been staged with any flair, fall tone deaf. That saw is as old as "Close Encounters," but even there it was well done because --- at one time, Spielberg was a helluva filmmaker. And that was about flying saucers for god's sake!
It's not that I found the detour Banshee Chapter took that implausible or irritating --- certainly Erickson is not mandated to give us a docudrama about MKULTRA. But, come on dude...at least give us something that doesn't put us to freaking' sleep!
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