Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scream of the Banshee (2011)

This chick can scream...but who'd date her?

This is a story that mixes Irish folklore with Templar knights that have locked away a secret for hundreds of years till it's accidentally unleashed in the modern day. It starts with more mystery and drama and then moves over to some more scares. The events unfold like a from-one-thing-to-the-next type of story mixed with amateur detective work since no one will believe such a fantastic tale anyhow but the few that seen it with their own bulging eyes.

In 12th century Ireland, knights are chasing a woman on horseback through the woods. A fight breaks out with some supernatural abilities shown and the victor, being the last man standing, decapitates the woman and encloses her head in a specially designed metallic box. Present day: an archeology professor is archiving historical artifacts when she receives an anonymous package with a gauntlet inside and a small map that hints at an additional item at the college campus she works at. She gives the task to her daughter and a false room is stumbled into with a medium sized crate that has Duncan written on the side. Inside is a metallic box that's opened by the gauntlet from earlier. It reveals a grotesque severed head with monstrous teeth. One of them disturbs it, causing the head to scream with such force that their ears bleed, only to then disintegrate with no evidence to show for themselves.

They begin to get haunting visits at night and strange occurrences as if something is trying to lure them out with a trap. They stumbled into more clues with a soothsayer named Broderick Duncan who used to teach at the same school. The Internet is a key player in their information gathering with videos from Duncan that leads them into finding out if you've heard the scream, it's essentially a death sentence. The daughter and mother are about to move around again, which causes tension to form between them and the daughter's new boyfriend. Though the romance angle between the two youngsters starts to distract from the story since it carries a contrasting tone and feels like fluff.

Some of the rules and mechanics line up a little too smoothly when the monsters appear and disappear. What's strange is the Banshee seems to wait around till it's convenient to the characters and how much development the audience is shown. It makes them unpredictable in a sense, but to a fault since you're not even sure what they're driving at. Your death? It makes it sound so mundane and one-dimensional when you have some rules for where they came from but not a solid reason of what they're doing there. The characters feel both totally safe to then completely in danger but without a balance in between to maintain the tension since there aren't very many rules in place to stop the Banshee and make this an engaging cat and mouse type of game on both sides. A share of the scares are extreme closeups and deafening sound effects with some strobes and unexpected events to catch you by surprise--to it's credit there's a reason for it. It's a good thing too as the flashing lights somewhat cover up some of the shoddy, thrown-together prosthetics and dated CGI work with good ol' smoke and mirrors.

"Scream of the Banshee" starts out on a high point with an intriguing premise with its own legend and rules, plus the way it was stumbled into makes it somewhat possible on suspending your disbelief. "Dead Silence" had some similar rules to its villain though both are completely different movies. This film only goes down hill from there as it begins to feel rushed to the point of nearly falling flat on its face and the audience thinking where did the picture go? The middle half starts to feel somewhat formulaic and not helped by the obvious editing trick that signals commercial breaks in between since it was also shown on the SyFy channel as a made of TV movie. The ending is a complete mess to the point where I'd have to have the patience of Dali Lama and another three paragraphs to break down the inconsistencies. Some of the dialogue at this point comes across as forced in that it doesn't always feel catered to that specific person playing the role. Some of it feels unauthentic enough to have been read just prior in a script. The motivations start to become nonsensical, anticlimactic and like padding to the run time, not to mention some of its prior story arcs were dropped and never picked back up. There's a decent movie in there somewhere, just whatever power above must have treated it like a stepping stone and had their attention/commitment elsewhere. The optimistic person in me can't get over how the movie can't hold up to such a cool title.

Rating: 2.5/10

From Black to Red recommends instead: "Dead Silence": Your scream is your death. So getting scared from pop outs and looming shadows is an integral part of the story that's also filled with atmosphere, engaging and memorable scenarios till the credits are rolling.

Director: Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion)
Stars: Lauren Holly, Marcelle Baer, Leanne Cochran, Todd Haberkorn, Lance Henriksen
Link: IMDB

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