Monday, March 28, 2011

Scream of the Banshee and Curiousity Claims More Victims in Horror: A Movie Review

Director: Steven C. Miller.

Writer: Anthony C. Ferrante and Jacob Hair.

Scream of the Banshee made its premiere on the SyFy Network March 26th and the film is from director Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion), along with writer Jacob Hair (2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams); Anthony C. Ferrante (Headless Horseman) also has a credit. The SyFy Network does not have great reputation for debuting quality films, or stories. However, Miller's latest has an interesting back story, with the use of dual antagonists suitable for a thrilling climax. The results are above average, but the material will not challenge viewers too much, after the final credits roll.

There is a nice reversal in time periods, to the 12th Century AD, from present day. The action begins early, with a horse chase through some unknown woods. Here, a witch uses her powers to send two one-dimensional characters to the abyss, while a third captures the sorceress in a metallic ornately crafted box. Move ahead 32 centuries and you find several anthropological researchers (Lauren Holly, Leanne Cochran) anxious to re-open this recently found contraption. This is not a good idea.

Soon, the banshee is out of her box/prison and the first character to die in present time is an African American. Yes viewers, we are re-trying some tried and true cliches. Soon, young couples are being terrorized in bed, by a heavily masked stunt double. Later, dream sequences are used to create red herrings, while a mythology is developed for the banshee. Some of the tried and true formulas are re-worked into this supernatural piece a la tongue-in-cheek.

Skipping ahead, the main rule for the film: do not scream in the presence of the banshee! But, characters forget this rule, scream and keep on living. Others cover their mouths, while this reviewer felt puzzled at the contradictions. Does a person scream in the presence of a banshee, or not? This is information this reviewer desperately needs to know!

An interesting element in the piece is the use of two villains. Of course, the aforementioned screaming witch is an antagonist, but so is a Col. Kurtz (Apocalypse Now) like character, named Broderick Duncan (Lance Henriksen). Mannequin parts litter Duncan's abode and one might be reminded of another 1979 Heart of Darkness styled feature, which also had more body parts littering a remote camp. Duncan is also just as loony as Kurtz, who was superbly played by Marlon Brando many years ago. The use of two villains makes the climax a little more complex and tense. Unfortunately, the conclusion and the film will not leave you thinking too hard, once the final blood splatter drips off screen.

This film was enjoyed by this reviewer, as a one-time watch. However, others might find the film a little too formulaic, or full of too many cliches. The story's conclusion is also somewhat predictable.

SyFy will re-show this title May 6th and this would be a good opportunity to watch the film and learn of Irish mythology, or learn about the mixed messages often found in horror titles.

*produced as part of the After Dark Originals' film program.

Directing techniques/coaching/staging: 7 (some interesting shots include close-ups, use of darkness, a shot or two from the POV of the banshee).
Writing/plot/story: 6.5 (no real twists, a pretty standard supernatural story, some interesting use of timelines early, a sub-plot of a recently deceased husband is brought up once and then never again, strange).
Acting/believability/interpretation: 6.5 (no melodrama, no one stands out except Henriksen near the end).

Overall: 6.66 (seems appropriate with the material).

Scream of the Banshee at SyFy;

Scream of the Banshee Showings on SyFy

A second review of this film is at Horror Society, by MGD Squan:

Scream of the Banshee Reviewed at Horror Society

No word on a DVD/Blu-Ray release, but these After Dark Originals are available now or shortly:

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