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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 :)
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I discovered this movie by chance. I was browsing a site that listed
upcoming movies being released to DVD/Blu Ray. I saw this and it
intrigued me. So I watched the trailer and was stoked to see the film.
I read that it was loosely based on "From Beyond" by the great H.P.
Lovecraft. That made me even more excited because I love the creeping
terror of many Lovecraft works. I saw the low score on this site and
that only slightly put me off. But I saw that the critics were giving
the movie positive feedback, something that doesn't happen often in the
horror genre. So the movie comes out and I buy it and wait till the
night comes to watch it. Boy was this a horror gem.
Plot Synopsis. The movie revolves around a journalist who discovers that her college friend has disappeared after taking a hallucinatory drug that the CIA used to experiment with on humans during the MKUltra project. After taking the drug a radio suddenly broadcasts a creepy numbers station signal of unknown origin before "something" comes and takes the person. She goes on a journey to figure out what happened and is joined along the way by a Hunter S. Thompson inspired character who uses the drug regularly. On the journey there are supernatural happenings and creepy CIA footage of patients from the MKUltra era. What the two discover is beyond belief and terrifying.
The movie uses found footage sometimes, but don't be fooled. This is not a found footage movie. There are instances where the film cuts to creepy fake documentary footage as well. But for the most part, the movie is directed in a way that can best be described as a combination of traditional film making and found footage. The directing style for these scenes I speak of is masterful especially for the low budget. The darkness that filled the screen a lot got annoying at first, but it actually becomes another character in the movie. The scariest scenes are the scenes in the darkness that don't show the monster or only show slight glimpses of it. The creeping feeling one gets from these scenes is done so well. There are many jump scares. Even if you don't get a glimpse of the entity shown during some of the jump scares, they still work. Some are cheap scares, but most are clever and truly terrifying scares. The music was also perfectly done. Very eerie and sometimes relaxing to the point of utter creepiness. The numbers station broadcast that plays to warn you that the entity is coming is one of the creepiest and original horror movie ideas I've ever seen or heard. The sounds heard are just discomforting and well crafted. The acting is also terrific from everyone. This is a low budge movie, but there are some veteran actors such as Ted Levine who plays the crucial Hunter S. Thompson type character amazingly and humorously. Those don't recognize the name will know his face from "Silence of the Lambs" and his voice from the now classic horror movie "Joy Ride". For such a low budget virtually unknown movie, all the actors and actresses give great performances. I have to say again that the style of directing is so original and clever. Sometimes it gets annoying and maybe boring during the long shots, but the payoff is worth it. The night I first watched the movie, I actually dreamed of the events in the film happening to me and woke up feeling very creeped out. I don't have nightmares from horror movies often if ever. But this one made me close the closet door.
This movie will stick with you. The images seen will keep some people up at night. The radio broadcast sound will dig deep. I can tell that this movie will slowly become the cult horror classic it is destined to be. The current score as I type this review is a 5.4 with only around 1,000 votes. I predict as the film finds its audience that throughout the years the score will make its way up to at least a 6 and if lucky enough maybe in the 7 out of 10 territory. I look forward to the work from this new director as he gets into slightly bigger budgeted films. I do have one complaint that many might also have with the DVD. If not watching on Netflix when it comes out there, many will probably be seeing this on DVD. But the problem I had was that there were no subtitles. I don't have trouble hearing, but some of the dialogue was hard to understand or hear clearly even when blown up to a high volume. But that is just a minor issue. So buy or rent this horror movie if you need a good creepy scare for the night that will stick with you. Just be prepared to pay attention because you could miss things if not!
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?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Camera work is very good, for a found footage, very expertly done.
Compared to the massive pile of shite I've just waded through on a
horror review list, this is a pleasant surprise. The subject of DMT and
MK Ultra is nouveau-cool these days, along with government cover- ups,
etc. The believability of this is not an issue, drugs and the drug
culture wet-blankets might rate this movie poorly, but it deserves to
be viewed as a horror movie not a commentary on whether drugs are bad
or not. Plus considering that the DMT in this is technically from a
human source it is au natural any way (hehe). But seriously, this is a
great shocker, frightener, jump-out-of-your seater. Who cares about t
the plot, all you know is there is "something coming for you" out of
the dark, and it goes BUMP in the night.
I recommend this to any VHS fans, or another great found-footage "The Lost Coast tapes (Bigfoot)" fans, that movie also has very poor ratings but it is a great movie, in fact one of my favs of all-time.
OK. Found footage movies! Many!
So, this is not an average footage film, not an above average, but, believe it or not, a GOOD one! And I do mean a good movie. Sure, not entirely footage, mostly tho, and it succeed on many levels: acting: lovely! Ted Levine for the win! So glad they decided to use him; plot: thicker than most, you get to see something a lot deeper, with more layers, bigger and complex; scares: success!; tension: plenty!
There you have it, I will try not to ruin or spoil this for you, so I'll simply try to point you in the right direction --> The Banshee Chapter. Sure, the name is used, and lame, "Banshee", "Banshee scream" and so on, but this one right here, doesn't connect so much with the name as the others did. This one is different. Different from all the found footage movies too! How? Well, it kinda answers half the questions. Not all, but half! So you get a much clearer view of the things, while the rest, well, that part will be for everyone's interpretation. I for one, loved it!
It has all that a horror needs: nice character depth, nice scares, nice tension, nice plot, nice idea! Watch it! So rarely that I recommend a footage kind of film!
Thoroughly enjoyed this experience. After seeing so much of the same
repeated, weak attempts at true fear lately, it's wonderful to see a
film that reaches back to the roots of horror. Lovecraft. How long has
it been since someone has tapped into the original horror mythology?
Back to classics like "From Beyond". It is such a joy in this day and
age to encounter a filmmaker who respects the origins of great horror.
On top of this, connecting the ancient evils with the modern terror of testing psychotropic drugs. And the clever connection to Hunter S. Thompson. Brilliant on so many levels. And, thankfully, a nice mix of reality TV and the best horror film scare techniques.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The mokumentary/found footage genre is without doubts excessively
over-used in the last years especially in the horror genre, nine movies
out of ten with this kind of gimmick are garbage, "The Banshee Chapter"
of course isn't a masterpiece, but is the one that i save.
"The Banshee Chapter" (i still need to understand why put Banshee in the title because that has nothing to do with the plot) have some appealing "fresh" elements like number stations, mind control, psychedelic/mind-expanding drugs, other dimensions and...Lovecraftian horror too.Yeah because if you've read Lovecraft's "From beyond" when like 30 minutes in the movie you can easily think about it and then have confirm of the excerpt later, when the character interpreted by Ted Levine sums the short-story to the main character.
Of course there are flaws too. I can accept the cheap visual FX and creatures, probably it was just a matter of budget and OK, but the big flaw is that all the good and interesting elements described before are not, in my opinion, deepened enough. All the explanation that you receive are just plain, even the plot twist at the end is nice but not a mind blowing one.
In conclusion "The Banshee Chapter" is a decent creepy movie with a good story concept and some good jump scares, it's really interesting in the first part but lose some of his appeal in the second part but a 6 out of 10 is well deserved anyway.
So I went into this movie without any real expectations and it turned
out to be, surprisingly, very good.
Mixing mind-altering drugs, a hint of the supernatural, things that go bump in the night (literally), a lot of filming at night in lonely and desolate places and a perpetual sense of tension in this case has made for a very interesting watch.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, I don't think it could be called much of a found-footage movie (probably why my expectations were so low in the first place anyway from thinking that it was it was!), but this actually makes it a better movie trying to create more of a storyline.
It isn't all good though, that storyline can get very confusing if you are not following closely and it still seems there are a number of plot points that are not entirely tied up by the time the movie ends, but in the end, it was still worth a watch and a worthwhile way to spend 87 minutes.
I've been hearing about this movie for a while - it got a lot of
positive attention on the festival circuit last year so it was nice to
finally be able to watch it on VOD at my own home.
It's a solid movie with some real gut-wrenching, nail-biting shocks. It takes a lot to shock me but this movie got to me.
Also it's based on actual creepy phenomenon like the government's MK-ULTRA program, unexplained short-wave "numbers" stations, various goings on deep in the Black Rock desert etc etc. Although it's not perfect, I would rate it up there as one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. Don't miss it.
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