Banshee Chapter (2013) – Raw Review

Banshee Chapter is Cosmic Horror Done Very Very Well.


The banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld. —
The most overly used tagline in movie marketing nowadays is “Based on true events” or “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by true events” etc. It’s overused, misleading, and just plain unnecessary most of the time. Sure, telling people up front a film is “Based on true events” will increase sales and audience anticipation but in the end it can leave a bad taste in their mouths as well.

The synopsis for this film says it’s “Inspired by true events” but all that ends up meaning is the story incorporates historical references to secret government experiments from back in the 50s/60s/70s. Perhaps the studio was concerned audiences wouldn’t be aware or believe that MK-Ultra project existed. Possible, but marketing true stories is better for a films bottom line, and the bottom line drives the machine.

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Fortunately Banshee Chapter, by writer/director Blair Erickson, is a decent enough cosmic horror film it doesn’t matter how it’s marketed. The movie is tackling fairly complex ideas that typically don’t translate well onto screen, but Erickson does a very good job in setting a dark and mysterious path for the characters to travel down while keeping the story at a solid pace.

Essentially Banshee Chapter is a mystery. When a journalist goes in search of her college friend who has gone missing after taking an experimental drug she finds something much more sinister than she could ever have imagined. Sound fun? It is.

The film style is done in hand cam and semi-hand cam. What I mean is there are recordings throughout the movie that provide clues to previous events which are entirely hand cam. The rest of the film is shot in third-person real time but the camera continues to follow the main character around as if the cameraman were standing next to her in the scene. For continuity purposes it works to keep the viewer feeling as if they are right alongside the protagonist. Then again, those who dislike hand cam will probably take issue with the semi-hand cam, finding it unnecessary. There isn’t a lot of shaky cam, other than in targeted places, so that’s a bonus.

Banshee Chapter, horror, sci-fi, thriller, mystery, monster, horror movie, sci-fi movie, scifi, Lovecraft, From Beyond, movie review, raw review, movie, NetflixThe main players in the film are Katia Winter and Ted Levine. Both put forth excellent performances from beginning to end. As some of you may know, Winter also played Katrina Crane on the show Sleepy Hollow. I promise she is much better in this than she was on the show. Levine you’ll remember from his iconic penis-tuck performance in Silence of the Lambs.

What made this movie far better than expected is the cosmic horror theme and homage to H.P. Lovecraft. The movie’s been out long enough that multiple articles and reviews have emphasized the connection, but Erickson cleary is a fan of Lovecraft’s work and drew considerable inspiration from the Lovecraft short From Beyond.

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The incorporation of the CIA’s MK-Ultra program creates an Area 51, Roswell conspiracy story well suited to cosmic horror concepts. If taking an experimental drug could allow you see things, things that can see you back what would you do? The concept and mystery is very nicely put together in this film, and some genuinely creepy moments will have a lot of people covering their eyes or just feeling uneasy. Fans of horror, mystery, conspiracy, and even science fiction should find something about the film that resonates with their interests.

Movie Meme Mashup

When an innocent garden gnome is kidnapped and taken on a world tour, a pit stop to a rural Pennsylvania town will become a matter of death and life.

Amelia gnome turned zombie wants to eat amelie for sending him around the world.

Tweet of the Day

Orson Galore tweeted a wonderful picture from The Exorcist. 

We’ve seen some crazy tweets but this one’s certainly a head turner! 

Norway – Green, beautiful, terrifying.

Dark Woods 2 trailer is finally here… 12 years later. 

Looks interesting. Can’t go too wrong with biohazard suits, an abandon asylum and creepy night vision hand-cam shots.

The Most Amazing Horror Movie Poster Art Ever Seen

Horror movies are known for their colorful posters, but these animated posters are absolutely fucking amazing. 

Thank you to Dread Central for tweeting out the artwork courtesy of IMGUR user SamRAW08. Click this link to see the full gallery.

Hellraiser (1987)

Pinhead and cenobites torture any who open a puzzle box.

The Stuff (1985)

Horror sci-fi movie. the stuff is alive and taking over anyone who eats it. Michael Moriarty, Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello

The Thing (1982)

alien discovered in antarctic takes form of those it attacks. Blood, guts, thriller, scary.

It (1990)

Horror story where Pennywise the clown kills kids and terrorizes a small town.

Happy Birthday Quentin!

“Tarantino named Hollywood’s 34th bloodiest director!”
Film at 11:00. 

V/H/S – Raw Review

Old School Horror That Surprises.

Horror movie anthology where robbers view video tapes with death, monsters, murder, and killers.

I have to admit, I stayed away from seeing V/H/S for a long time. The volume of ultra-terrible low budget horror out there makes it difficult to sift through everything in search of those rare nuggets of gold. Guess I’m just getting old. I know it’s always been this way but time is more precious than it used to be, mainly because there isn’t as much of it to watch movies. 

V/H/S surprised the hell out of me. Adam Wingard is credited with directing one of the short films, and given the awesome job he did on You’re Next perhaps it’s not as surprising this film has some genuinely good moments. 

The movie isn’t perfect, or even great, but several of the mini-stories are really well done and mindblowing. The film is an anthology. We the audience follow a group of scumbags as they burglarize a house. 

sex blood murder monster college party guys get eaten by naked girl
“Man, was she horny or hungry?”

The house is creepy (which doesn’t seem to bother these guys at all, making them even scummier) and as they look for the item they’re to steal they come across a room full of TVs and VHS cassettes. Naturally the groups first notion is to sit and watch the tapes, presumably in the hope of finding something of value. 

haunted apartment with horrible little alien monsters and a plot twist that  is killer
“Hey, who is that behind you?”

From there we get a series of short films, all hand-cam. This is where the movie really shines. We get a series of stories ranging from sex monster to homicidal lover to serial killer to alien something or other and haunted house. Some of the films are better than others but each has its own unique style and voice. All of them are violent, and all of them are bloody. 

So is it worth seeing? 

Surprisingly, yes. Yes it is. The arc story isn’t done very well and one short story is too long and boring for the payoff, but the sex monster, serial killer and haunted house clips are well worth your time.

serial killer who cannot be filmed kills college kids in woods with a knife
“Why are you all blurry?”

What’s an anthology?

A collection of stories. In this case short movies. It works well in V/H/S because flash horror doesn’t require structure, logic, or resolution. We don’t know where the tapes came from or why, we just enjoy the them.

Is this a good date movie?

V/H/S actually could be a good date movie. It’s hip and fresh, has a lot of young college characters in it, and a nice blend of sex/nudity/violence.

So is the whole movie hand-cam (shaky-cam)?

Yeah it is, and I’m sure that will turn some people off, but if you can handle hand-cam (even if it’s not your favorite filming style) and like low-budget horror that’s fun then give it a shot.

college party group stumble into a haunted house with human sacrifice and horrible death
“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…”

Is there CGI?

Probably, but all the blood and gut scenes looked like props and latex to me. Bonus points for that!

What the hell is a V/H/S tape?

It’s like Betamax only larger and with less quality. VHS won the video cassette format war… Just like Blu-ray won the HD disc war against HD DVDLaserdisc

I’m getting too freakin old.

Reviews where the corpse is still kicking.