23rd Jul2011

‘Scream of the Banshee’ DVD Review (After Dark Originals)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Lauren Holly, Lance Henriksen, Monica Acosta, Eric F. Adams, Marcelle Baer | Written by Anthony C. Ferrante | Directed by Steven C. Miller

The banshee, a mythical creature that foretells a death in the night by her eerie wails floating out of the darkness. I know what you are thinking; it’s a good character for a Syfy style monster movie right? Well you would be correct. To be fair though, this does not always mean that it’s a bad thing.

When a strange box is found behind a wall in a university; and a strange gauntlet mysteriously arrives at just the right time turns out to be the key to opening the box you know the signs are always bad. Not caring about these signs of doom the box is opened by an archaeology professor and her assistants and they find a strange decomposing head inside. The head starts to scream before disintegrating and yes you guessed it, anybody who heard the scream are doomed, the Banshee has been released. The archaeologists find themselves in a race against time to find out how to destroy the Banshee, stop it from killing more people and above all, not to scream. Only through their screams can the Banshee kill them.

I know from the description I’ve given the story sounds quite silly, but in truth it is. Now a silly story can come across as fun if it’s a b-movie right? It’s just a shame that Scream of the Banshee is not a fun b-movie. Its story is quite strong for this type of film I will admit, but the editing ruined a lot of scenes for me, especially the death scenes. Flashing lights and quick cuts do nothing for me, especially when I’m looking for gore. This may have been a way to keep costs down during the filming of these scenes but it does feel that this is not the case as the actual gore (when you can see it) is actually well done and when CGI is used it’s not as obtrusive as in some modern horror movies. The practical effects are actually very good and save the movie at times, especially one scene where one of the characters are slowly covered in blood to the point where she almost drowns in it. This is one of the few effects scenes where the shots are longer and effective as you feel the full horror of having the blood flow down onto the characters face instead of quick shots of the Banshee filled with sporadic flashing lights and bad acting as the person dying screams and gives into the foretold death.

At its heart this is a movie that follows the same old style of The Ring, you hear the scream and you know you’ve not got long to live. This does work well as a story and it is a nice twist to the same old routine, but I just felt it was not portrayed effectively enough for me. It ended up being sillier than actually fun or exciting. Whoever decided to have Lance Henriksen as the crazy old archaeologist walk around in a dressing gown while wearing nail varnish (for no apparent reason) was either brilliant or insane. As always the use of cult actors like this achieve the goal of improving the scenes they are in, but reminding us how inferior all the other scenes are.

For what it is, Scream of the Banshee is a watchable and to some extent fun film, but as with The Task that I watched along with this, it does feel like a missed chance. The death scenes were done in a stylistic way that I disliked, although some people may actually like it for the way it is edited. This may in fact increase their enjoyment, for me though it was detrimental. The fact is, this is a movie that tries to be original and is not afraid to actually use practical effects rather than the all too popular CGI of the moment; it just fails to actually achieve its goal.

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