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The Banshee Chapter Reviews

Page 1 of 5
366weirdmovies
366weirdmovies

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2014
An investigative journalist looks for a friend who disappeared after taking an experimental CIA hallucinogenic drug from the 1960s. The plot pulls in CIA mind control experiments, "numbers stations," and other bits of paranoid fringe lore, but as a whole the this talky found-footage style movie has only one really good idea: it's fun to see a key character transparently based on gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson tromping through an "X-Files" style scenario.
Francisco  G.
Francisco G.

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2014
This was an actually well thought premise, with genuinely creepy and scary moments but it tried to bite more than it could chew. Too many conspiracy theories that don't matter much in the end and an Hunter S. Thompson twist that you'll either roll with it or will kill the movie for you. All this a bit unnecessary to the main story which was quite entertaining and had some highlights here and there.
Adam M

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2014
Horror based around real life experiments on humans by the US government where people reported feeling like something was after them and seeing strange entities and hallucinating. A female journalists friend goes missing after taking the experimental drug and she goes on a mission to find out what happened to him. Her findings lead her to the house of a cult writer and the journalists discoveries get deeper and darker.
The Banshee Chapter does a good job of upping the tension on a regular basis and not overdoing it on the scares so when they do come, it fucking works!
Being loosely based on something that actually happened also peaks your interest . Winner of 'Scariest Film' at Total Films Frightfest, The Banshee Chapters real and gritty feel adds another dimension, making it a must see for horror and thriller fans alike.
March 14, 2014
Cool horror flick based off of the MK-ULTRA experiments--has a Hunter S. Thompson character played by "Buffalo Bill"/"Rusty Nail" /Monk's boss Ted Levine. Easy to miss/worth red-boxing.
juliantoepfer
March 8, 2014
While certainly not perfect, 'The Banshee Chapter' manages to be a pretty effective little horror flick. No one will accuse it of being very original or having much in the way of structured storytelling, but it is quite effective in its scares. In an era of overindulgent gore and CGI, this film recognizes what it is and excels at it.

I'll start with a few negatives off the bat. As I said, it doesn't bring much to the table as far as originality. It appears to be loosely based on H.P Lovecraft's "From Beyond" (which is directly referenced in the film), but when I say 'loosely' I mean 'barely discernible'. Despite this, it definitely maintains its Lovecraftian vibe. Lesser known films such as 'Pulse', 'Jacobs Ladder', 'The Objective' and 'White Noise' have some fingerprints here, as well as a few nods to Japanese style horror films. Some issues with the script and subpar acting leak out in a few instances, but nothing terrible. One major complaint I have here is the cinematography. Part traditional part found footage, but you can't ever tell because the traditional portion is just as shaky and jarring as the found footage. Lastly and perhaps most importantly in my list of drawbacks is a fairly large degree of what the hell. There is very little in the way of explanation or reason. Things just sort of happen. It is as if many of the scenes were written independently and then a connective plot device was manufactured to tie them in. I am a fan of leaving some things open to your audience, but there are simply too many half cooked ideas floating around that are never even close to explained.

All these negatives aside, there is still a pretty good movie here. A slow burn style story method really works to amp up the tension, making the most of the limited action it has. Just like the Lovecraft story on which it is based, its creeping and smothering atmosphere instills a sense of pure dread without hardly doing anything. It exemplifies a common thread throughout all of Lovecraft's work: the human race is an infant in a world of ancient and slumbering evil. Also like Lovecraft, the scientifically analytical lens through which the story is viewed is just as creepy as the more traditional scares. Speaking of, the scares it has up its sleeve are legit, and the effects (while scant) are well done and quite freaky.

The acting is pretty strong in general, but I have to single out the underutilized Ted Levine. His Hunter S. Thompson knockoff is a great deal of fun. He really throws himself in headfirst, and you can tell he enjoyed himself in this role. While he is the only recognizable actor here, the rest of the cast is solid. A few bad moments from Katia Winter and Jenny Gabrielle aside, everyone holds their own quite well. The film is in pretty good hands technically (aside from the previously stated cinematography issues). Minimal music, great use of backlighting, original and creepy sound editing generally play up and ultimately mask some of the films shortcomings.

While no one will ever mistake this film for a masterpiece, 'The Banshee Chapter' is a creepy film with plenty going for it. In a relatively down year for horror, this film can lay claim to being in the upper echelon, once again showing that the scariest thing is the thing we don't see. While it isn't a good adaptation of Lovecraft's novel, its aura is abundantly clear. Pop this one on sometime. You could do a lot worse.
January 29, 2014
A mix of found-footage and traditional cinema, The Banshee Chapter fuses together various conspiracy theories involving the government's drug experiments on civilians, numbers stations, etc. to create a creepy, enthralling, and original horror film. It cleverly features a counter-cultural author, based on Hunter S. Thompson, who both provides comic relief and adds to the film's paranoid aura. Creepy, funny, and intelligent, The Banshee Chapter doesn't quite ramp up the action to a climax like it could have, but it still manages to be a thoroughly satisfying and unique piece of horror cinema.
Francisco  G.
Francisco G.

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2014
This was an actually well thought premise, with genuinely creepy and scary moments but it tried to bite more than it could chew. Too many conspiracy theories that don't matter much in the end and an Hunter S. Thompson twist that you'll either roll with it or will kill the movie for you. All this a bit unnecessary to the main story which was quite entertaining and had some highlights here and there.
August 26, 2014
OK acting, ridiculous twists and turns became laughable toward the end.
August 24, 2014
One line summary: Small budget, but good acting, story, and direction.

-------------------------
Setup and Plot


Journalist Anne Roland's college friend James has gone missing. Renny, the last man to see him alive has also gone missing after being interviewed extensively by police. Anne pursues; her editor helps by connecting her to gonzo journalist/personality Thomas Blackburn. She hopes that Blackburn will increase her knowledge of the drug that James ingested as an experiment for his next book.

During a visit to Blackburn's house, Anne meets his chemist friend Callie, who has synthesized some of the drug. The trio drinks smaller quantities than James took, but the effects are still strong. When Blackburn and Anne wake up from the drug's knockout punch, Callie is nowhere to be found.

Interleaved with the contemporary story are bits of archival footage that chronicle government experiments with some similar effects. The electricity is temporarily lost, screaming ensues, the patients get free of restraints, and the patients are not to be found immediately.

Blackburn and Anne find Callie's lab, which contains a number of clues. Will this be enough to let Anne solve the riddle of James' disappearance?

-----Scores-----

Cinematography: 6/10 There was a lot of archival film (black and white, low resolution, blurry) and shaky cam footage (variable, but mostly bad). However, unlike many other directors, Erickson seemed to know quite well how to use bad footage to increase the feeling of threat and isolation that thrillers need.

Sound: 8/10 The music and foley were good for increasing suspense and creepiness.

Acting: 8/10 Katia Winter and Ted Levine had a large percent of all the spoken lines. Both of them did fine jobs.

Screenplay: 8/10 The script was not perfect, but did keep my attention. The plot moved forward quickly enough that my usual strong disgust for found film was not invoked. The providing of just enough clues to keep going was well done, and the exposition of motivations was nicely executed. About the time that I thought the film was more of an adventure/thriller, the ending reminded me that it was truly a horror movie. Well done.
August 22, 2014
"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.
Julian T.
August 21, 2014
While certainly not perfect, 'The Banshee Chapter' manages to be a pretty effective little horror flick. No one will accuse it of being very original or having much in the way of structured storytelling, but it is quite effective in its scares. In an era of overindulgent gore and CGI, this film recognizes what it is and excels at it.

I'll start with a few negatives off the bat. As I said, it doesn't bring much to the table as far as originality. It appears to be loosely based on H.P Lovecraft's "From Beyond" (which is directly referenced in the film), but when I say 'loosely' I mean 'barely discernible'. Despite this, it definitely maintains its Lovecraftian vibe. Lesser known films such as 'Pulse', 'Jacobs Ladder', 'The Objective' and 'White Noise' have some fingerprints here, as well as a few nods to Japanese style horror films. Some issues with the script and subpar acting leak out in a few instances, but nothing terrible. One major complaint I have here is the cinematography. Part traditional part found footage, but you can't ever tell because the traditional portion is just as shaky and jarring as the found footage. Lastly and perhaps most importantly in my list of drawbacks is a fairly large degree of what the hell. There is very little in the way of explanation or reason. Things just sort of happen. It is as if many of the scenes were written independently and then a connective plot device was manufactured to tie them in. I am a fan of leaving some things open to your audience, but there are simply too many half cooked ideas floating around that are never even close to explained.

All these negatives aside, there is still a pretty good movie here. A slow burn style story method really works to amp up the tension, making the most of the limited action it has. Just like the Lovecraft story on which it is based, its creeping and smothering atmosphere instills a sense of pure dread without hardly doing anything. It exemplifies a common thread throughout all of Lovecraft's work: the human race is an infant in a world of ancient and slumbering evil. Also like Lovecraft, the scientifically analytical lens through which the story is viewed is just as creepy as the more traditional scares. Speaking of, the scares it has up its sleeve are legit, and the effects (while scant) are well done and quite freaky.

The acting is pretty strong in general, but I have to single out the underutilized Ted Levine. His Hunter S. Thompson knockoff is a great deal of fun. He really throws himself in headfirst, and you can tell he enjoyed himself in this role. While he is the only recognizable actor here, the rest of the cast is solid. A few bad moments from Katia Winter and Jenny Gabrielle aside, everyone holds their own quite well. The film is in pretty good hands technically (aside from the previously stated cinematography issues). Minimal music, great use of backlighting, original and creepy sound editing generally play up and ultimately mask some of the films shortcomings.

While no one will ever mistake this film for a masterpiece, 'The Banshee Chapter' is a creepy film with plenty going for it. In a relatively down year for horror, this film can lay claim to being in the upper echelon, once again showing that the scariest thing is the thing we don't see. While it isn't a good adaptation of Lovecraft's novel, its aura is abundantly clear. Pop this one on sometime. You could do a lot worse.
August 11, 2014
Shot in an almost found footage stye, Banshee Chapter has a genuinely impressive storyline, creepy atmosphere and well-earned jump scares that had me leaping out of my seat a few times. The film also cleverly mixes in the genuinely creepy lore of shortwave 'numbers stations', & various CIA experiments. The cast have a done a genuine job. Unfortunately I felt the plot had many holes, while raising so many questions, it failed to answer most. Still, I respect any new director trying something a little different. Kudos to the vocal effects, the soundtrack is both timeless and powerful. "The Banshee Chapter" is a fun, fright-filled, horror story that I will fulfill a horror fan's thirst, but may disappoint someone looking for fine story story telling. Give it a watch nevertheless.
August 5, 2014
A moody horror movie. The Banshee Chapter carries some scary scenes and disturbing images but sometimes the plot gets lost.
Logistic wolf
December 21, 2013
Definitely has the H. P Love craft thing going here. There was so scary moments in this one. Nice part about this is there is some truth in mix of this craziness.
July 27, 2014
I am 3 and a half to four stars. It's what you can't see that is the scariest to me and this movie does a lot of that with mystery mixed with conspiracy and horror. Even if you know something is bound to jump out at you it still works somehow in this film. It taps in to your imagination and leaves you to believe it could possibly happen in real life which makes it even more creepy. Not bad for the genre, I would watch it again.
July 27, 2014
This is a sort of "professional B-movie", if you catch my drift. It is successful in evoking a few scares, and manages to create a genuinely creepy atmosphere. My favourite aspects, however, are the obvious references, almost throughout, to Hunter S Thompson - who is personified in the "Thomas Blackburn" character. The mixture of hallucinogenic depictions, indie-retro 1970s music, and the general feeling of high strangeness, really make this movie. It's a good one to watch on any night in. It obviously harks back to the CIA Project MKUltra experiments of the 1960s and 70s.
John W.
July 14, 2014
Banshee Chapter doesn't really break new ground and the story is a little rough connecting, but despite that it's a great, claustrophobic, thriller with some real jump-in-your-seat scares. Katia Winter's character takes a bit to warm up (no pun intended), but then delivers wonderfully and using Levine to blend his character's Hunter Thompson sensibilities into a Lovecraftian environment is brilliant. The story really kicks in with his introduction. Great example that talent is as important as budget. While there are a couple of 'found footage' type sections (when will this overused device go away), I heartily applaud the decision to focus on more 'traditional' cinematic storytelling.
July 7, 2014
Fear and Loathing From Beyond. Great fun. More than a little scary...non-stop creeping dread.
July 4, 2014
I didn't even know I wanted some Hunter S. Thompson sprinkled into my Blair Witch...but I'll be dammed if this isn't the best (and by miles the scariest) movie of 2014 so far.
April 12, 2014
Boring, unneven, cinematographically confusing, clichéd, unfocused, and with repetitive although sometimes effective scares. Overall it really doesnt feel like a bad movie itself, just very poorly executed and one of the worst uses of good source material Ive seen.
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