Sunday, September 18, 2011

Horror Film Review

Scream of the Banshee (2011):  There are levels of bad.  I believe Dante wrote about it once.  Of course, he was describing the nine levels of hell, but it sure feels the same when what you're watching sucks.  In this movie, the subject of which you should be able to glean from the poster over there, we're on level five, I'd say.  It was just a paycheck for Lauren Holly (who really does know how to act, honest) and, what should have been a tip off from the start, was made by After Dark Films.

We start out in Ireland towards the end of the 12th century.  A Templar knight forges a two-tine stabbing sword and also a cross-shaped shield that automatically folds up on itself to form a box the size of a dorm frig.  He and a couple of buddies chase down the evil critter (who's taken the form of a pretty woman), stab her with the fork/sword, and then activate the shield, which decapitates and locks the head in the box.  It's all very exciting.  Then the film shifts to the present day, and...

I've seen elderly snails move faster.  Archaeology professor Isla Whelan (Holly) and grad students Otto (Todd Haberkorn) and Janie (Leanne Cochran) receive a 12th century Templar gauntlet in the mail along with a map.  The map leads them to a hidden room in the basement of their department where they find the box.  Of course they figure out how to open it.  The monstrous head, which has somehow been preserved, screams and then disintegrates.  Everyone who heard (and later hears the scream because they recorded it) becomes a target of the creature that inexplicably becomes whole again.  They then must track down a discredited and totally bat-shit crazy former professor (Lance Henriksen) who's the only one who knows how to stop it.  By this time, I was rooting for the banshee.

There are few things not worth mentioning but I will anyway.  I wasn't terribly impressed with Henriksen.  Although if you've always dreamed of seeing him in a bath robe sporting a beer gut and red fingernail polish, then your dream has come true.  The gaps in logic in Scream of the Banshee will make your head hurt.  What's with all the mannequin parts?  Also, there's no explanation of the creature's origins and not enough of why Henriksen's character wants to unleash it upon the world.  Or why the stabbing fork and shield/box are able to stop it.  Or why it sometimes seems real and other times just in its victims' heads.  Or why...

The Breakdown

Acting:  Most performances are just phoned in, especially Holly's.  I think Henriksen must have been on Valium.
Story:  I love the idea of using folklore and fairy tales for big-screen fodder.  Thing is, you have to write something that's interesting and makes a little bit of sense.  They missed the mark on both counts.
Direction:  The pace is off and way too lethargic for a horror flick.  During dialogue, there are camera cuts and pregnant pauses that are bizarre and awkward. 
Production Values:  The film is grainy and the sound quality awful.  The sets aren't anything to write home about either.
Gore/FX:  Admittedly, there is a lot of blood.  The problem is that it's what you might find in Italian horror...too bright of a red.  The banshee itself isn't bad as far as monster make-up goes, but it's not all that original.  Or scary.
Scares:  None.  Not even a "gotcha" jump.
Ending:  You won't believe this, but think Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Yep.  Forklift and a warehouse.  It's definitely a head-scratcher. 

The Verdict:  Should you see Scream of the Banshee?  Not if you want to respect yourself in the morning...or want to maintain any kind of respect for Lauren Holly or Lance Henriksen.

My Rating:  1 out of 5 stars. 

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