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I just finished watching this film at the After Dark Film Festival in
I was impressed. It has a genuinely creepy atmosphere and well-earned jump scares that had me leaping out of my seat a few times.
The film is an effective mix of traditional filmmaking,'found footage', and even actual documentary footage and news reels. This melding of fiction with 'faux-real' footage and factual footage was perfect given the subject matter (which revolves around the real-life MKUltra 'mind control experiments' conducted by the CIA during the Cold War). The film also cleverly mixes in the genuinely creepy lore of shortwave 'numbers stations', resulting in a calling card for the film's villain which is flat-out *beep* scary.
Speaking of the 'villain', I don't want to give away too much, but I wanted to congratulate the director for creating a 'Big Bad' that is unnervingly ambiguous and 'unknowable', both in terms of motivation and appearance.
The performances are solid, and I particularly enjoyed the Hunter S. Thompson-esque character for the humour he brought to the proceedings.
Tonally, this movie reminded me of the Mothman Prophecies and a lot of the better 'Creepypasta' stories from the internet. I give this a big thumbs up :)
Just watched this and was pleasantly surprised. Especially after seeing
the IMDb page and checking out the HORRIBLE poster and low rating.
Essentially a tale about government chemical mind control experiments, with a mix of a scary shortwave radio transmission and some super cool Lovecraftian elements a la From Beyond, it is done in a scary manner, with a mix of found footage, real and faked news clips, and sometimes just plain old standard filmed storytelling.
The flashlight, a common horror cliché, is also used to great effect here. I can see some people not liking this one and it being a polarizing movie but I enjoyed it very much. It also boasts a great performance by Ted Levine, who freaked us out as Rusty Nail in "Joyride." This is the first scary movie I've seen in a while. The last thing I can say is it's a mix of originality, cliché, and "borrowing", but what movie today isn't?
I really wanted to like this film. But there was so many things being thrown in the mix it's was just too much to take. Number stations, mk ultra, drugs, government conspiracies, and a barrage of scenes which never really give the viewer time to build up to a feeling of dread. They're just delivered to you in a quick fire fashion and even the "face at the window" shots are so quick you can't define them sometimes. I have to say I liked the Ted Levine character Blackburn as he played it with gusto right to the end. But apart from the outlandish story there are many plot holes and the ending just wasn't that satisfying for me. Still, I respect any new director trying something a little different.
"The Banshee Chapter" is a blend of found footage, and tradition
filming styles that create a smooth, creepy visual horror story. The
film is directed by Blair Erickson and stars Katia Winter, Ted Levine,
Michael McMillian, Jenny Gabrielle, William Sterchi, Alex Gianopoulos
in mad science tale that is part urban legend, part Lovecraftian,
centering around a journalist seeking answers to the disappearance of
her college friend after an experiment goes terribly wrong.
The story in "The Banshee Chapter" creates an almost instantly captivating tale around urban legends that arose after it was made public of the black ops experiments the Government implemented on citizens during the 60's and 70's using LSD. That is a conspiracy lore ideology that I find myself trolling the internet reading. This element weaves eerily effortlessly into the Lovecraft world of horror, particularly the story surrounding the scientist that creates an antenna that becomes a gateway between worlds ultimately allowing both sides to move between. "The Banshee Chapter" pushes out a dark, nightmare that stays serious, flows nicely, and maintains a chilling atmosphere from start to finish without becoming boring.
The acting in this film is pretty stellar, not too melodramatic or forced but so polished that it just seems over-rehearsed. The transitions between the found footage scenes and the standard third person point-of-view are balanced and move smoothly without the effects being made into some big production. By which I mean the scenes move in and out without seeming pointless or just "stuck in" the film with no purpose other than to cash in on the "footage" craze. "The Banshee Chapter" takes the two styles and mixes them with ease which makes the film suspenseful and chilling. The direction and character development felt authentic and created an actual connection between me and the story, something that often times falls to the wayside in "found footage" driven films.
The special effects and soundtrack in "The Banshee Chapter" both work nicely in creating a chilling, and entertaining atmosphere with moments that are gripping, and intense while feeling creepy as heck. The special effects are the usual gimmicks and tricks to create shock moments and suspense but the director maintains control of the elements so nothing looks cheap or pointless, or more importantly lacking in fright. I jumped several times while watching this movie. The soundtrack and sound effects create an overture to the creepy atmosphere that the acting and story develops, really pulling me into the complete story. Mostly instrumental with some vocal effects, the soundtrack is both timeless and powerful. "The Banshee Chapter" is a fun, fright-filled, horror story that I found to be true to the genre without seeming hokey.
Journalist Anne Roland explores the disturbing links behind her
friend's sudden disappearance, an ominous government research chemical,
and a disturbing radio broadcast of unknown origin.
This film has some good things going for it. With using MK-ULTRA as the background, they are able to blend fact and fiction, and certainly horror stories resulting from government experiments exist. This was a clever idea, even if not always done to its full potential.
There is also a very clear reference to Hunter S. Thompson, and that will make lots of people smile. Perhaps actually making the character Thompson and having this re-imagined as a bizarre pseudo-historical film might have helped.
The Banshee Chapter is a decent horror flick with a lot of potential that unfortunately fails to deliver on most counts. The film starts really well, but sadly doesn't manage to keep up with its early promise. It does have a few genuinely nail biting moments in it however, which make it well worth a watch. I would recommend approaching this film in the knowledge that it is a highly flawed yet enjoyable hour and a half, so that you aren't disappointed and can enjoy the film for what it is; A relatively well- made chiller with some very good ideas, executed clumsily. I feel that with a tightening of the plot and a better lead actress, there could have been a really excellent film here. Still, The Banshee Chapter is much better than the majority of horror films out there, and definitely worth viewing at least once if you're in the mood for a fright.
I'd never heard of this film, (and only recognised two of the cast) but
found it while channel hopping last night.
The blurb sounded promising so I thought I'd give it a go and I was glad I did.
The film felt very "indie", a simple (if somewhat odd) idea nicely executed. Other reviews have described it as "Lovecraftian", and that description works well (there is even mention of Lovecraft at one point).
The mood is one of hidden lurking menace, never fully seen, only glimpsed. There were several excellent "jump out of your seat" scares, but even those were tastefully done. The acting is low key and the roles well cast.
I'm not going to say much more as I'd love people to discover this underrated little gem for themselves.
I have never really been a fan of either Documentary or especially
Found Footage Horror. But, the way this one builds the tension and
suspense, it does the job just fine. I'm probably just a BIG P\/$$y,
but quite honestly this scared the living $h!t right out of me into my
pants (probably more information than you wanted...)
Anyway, despite my usual antipathy for these kinds of films, once in a while one will come along that is very effective, and this is one of them. Coincidentally, I also recently watched a similar film called 'THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE' which also scared me $h!tless, but that one was much more heavily slanted toward the Paranormal than this one was.
So, there really is not a whole lot to say about his particular Genre except whether it is done well or not. And, I can say that for me personally, I was absolutely RIVETED to the screen the entire time. There was NO down time on this one. And YES, there are numerous jump type scares, but with this kind of film, I think that it would be obvious that that comes with the territory. The point is whether the jump scares are done well, and they are indeed...
My imagination is VERY sensitive, so maybe this film would be more intense for me than for others, I don't know. All I know is that by the end, I was frigg'n creeped out. So, what that means to me is that the primary elements that are vital to a film like this, namely the mood and atmosphere, are clearly effective and doing the good job that they are supposed to be doing. Like I said, this type of film is not my first choice. I tend to find the more Fantasy based, 'fun' type of Horror more enjoyable (like 'NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET' or 'RE-ANIMATOR', for example) But, this one seriously had me by the nuts and refused to let go...
I would say that if you don't mind the Genre, and if have an active imagination like I do, and if you can REALLY get sucked into a story easily like I did with this one, then this movie should indeed scare you...
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The title "Banshee Chapter" intrigued me, though the poster gave away
the jump scares. (I saw this on Amazon, I can imagine it was better in
the theatre and in 3D.) The MK-Ultra hook grabbed me, because I
remember when the CIA documents were released via the Freedom of
Information Act and President Clinton actually apologized to the
country. However, it was when I saw the term "numbers stations" I knew
I had to see this movie.
Shortwave radio has been a fascination of mine since childhood. Having ham radio enthusiasts for parents means you get a few old radios to "play" with. The shortwave frequencies fascinated me endlessly because you could hear the cosmos, using radio astronomy you could hear pulsars, quasars, supernovas ... pretty cool, right? I'd listen for rhythms in the chaos, moving the dial the slightest of notches.
Then I found the "numbers stations." And this is why I give this movie 9/10. That's only -1 for everything other reviewers complain about. Numbers stations are real, and they are quite spooky when you find them. The station used prominently in this movie is REAL, you can find it for yourself. I had listened to that station so often, for so many years, I'd had so many dreams and nightmares about it, that it made the movie feel very, very real to me. I'm pretty sure the film makers were counting on some audience members' familiarity with shortwave numbers stations, or with mind-altering drugs, to give it a boost.
I recommend this movie to all my friends, *after* I play them a few numbers stations ... they say the movie is horrifying, truly scary. Great use of real facts, events and real news clips in an otherwise standard horror flick. Google "CONET Swedish Rhapsody" before watching and listen for a real scary treat at 2:48 in the recording, then watch Banshee Chapter.
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