Day 19 of 31
Banshee Chapter (Horror, Thriller, 2013) (15) D: Blair Erickson W: Blaie Erikson and Daniel J Healy P: Zachary Quinto C: Katia Winter, Ted Levine, Michael McMillian,. 1h 27m. USA.
Synopsis : Journalist Anna roland explores the disturbing links behind her friend’s sudden disappearance, an ominious government research chemical, and a disturbing radio broadcast of unknown origin.
Darkly atmospheric and creepy as fuck, this insane nightmare of a movie really taps into your modern day life and shows you how to open the door into darkness! Yeah okay I killed the intro there, but this film is inspired by the legendary HP Lovecraft story From Beyond that was earlier made into a 80’s psychotropic film of the same name. Banshee Chapter does take things step or two forwards and really roots itself into real events, thus bringing the events of Lovecraft old monsters and madmen literally right to your doorstep.
The film kicks off in style, a couple of guys are filming themselves trying DMT for the first time. After showing footage of President Clinton; and other people announcing the existence of a government experiment Project MKUltra. The brand of DMT-19 is the same drug used in the testing. Then something goes terribly wrong, a weird sound is heard over the radio akin to Silent Hill (20??) and James becomes extremely anxious saying that something is coming towards the house and it wants to “wear them”, a large shadowy figure rushes past the window and the scene ends with a shot of James with all black eyes and a disfigured face standing in a pool of blood. A young journalist picks up the story with the help of Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine) and she bravely searches for the bizarre drug and radio station, what she uncovers is truly terrifying and relentless.
The film keeps the viewer on edge with some deeply psychological scares all the way through. A lot of it filmed as a documentary or in the style of a found footage mockumentary. The horror that is created in this film is dark and exceptionally creepy as it links in with two real aspects, DMT, the dream drug that gets you high for a short time and changes your perspective about yourself, but along with the trip there are commonalities that many people experience such as the mechanical elves but with this variation of DMT the elves are really the old gods and they want to wear us. Another spooky connection is that Number’s Stations do exist, playing pretty much the same sounds as you hear in the film and no one really fully understands what function they have, got a radio.. then you can find a numbers station. Wanna find a station while tripping on DMT!? NOPE.
The amazing drugged up and knowledgeable character played by Thomas Blackburn was the first cast and made great Ted Levine, and is obviously closely based on Hunter S Thompson. It’s also curious how the word Banshee is never mentioned in the movie, but the connection is to the numbers stations, the strange short wave radio sounds that are present whenever someone is about to be taken over, similar to the bizarre radio sounds in the Silent Hill game.He also gives the film one of its best quotes and generally all of the best lines.
While the film switches from found footage clips to being a real movie both styles offer a lot of jump scares and suspense. While this is done effectively some shots are like those YouTube videos where people are trying to film Hominids and they are too blurry and vague. But in some respects these short glimpses of something unreal in the darkness is what intensifies the fear. At one point Anna is out in the desert trying to source one of the numbers stations and while out in the desert at one point she’s taking into the camera and seconds later the scene is cut
The gold star acting award goes to the veteran madman Ted Levine, the first actor cast for this part as the homage to Hunter S Thompson, he plays a very important and very colourful drugged up walking almanac. Dropping hints to Lovecraft and basically being the unsung hero in a bizarre kind of way. His short scenes are both memorable as much fun as this psychological horror will allow.
Erikson has taken the unfinished script for the original Alone in the Dark (2009) and turned it into something way more frightening than even the original game, let alone the car crash of a movie the film turned into. While it’s quite brilliant (and I don’t understand the low scores) its deep very intuitive and one of the few movies that made me sleep with the lights on. As a fan of Lovecraft and one who adores when his work is transformed into a movie I think this really steps it up a gear and modernises it, away from spooky old houses and the classic ole crazed man running from tribesmen in the jungle, and connects it with the mysteries of our own times, making it equally scary. The key items and projects to a certain extent do exist.
While the movie is technically a remake, it’s right in the mic of anything that Lovecraft could have dreamt up but seem so skewed. It honestly is remarkable how unattached it is from the previous movie and while re-inventing itself it has become something new and dare I say more terrifying. Usually in Lovecraft stories there’s an ancient book and macabre practices that need to be carried out to bring the old ones back.. nu uhu! Not here, all you need is a drug that everyone is hankering after and possibly cooking up in their kitchen as a bath salt and a radio station that is out there all the time. BOOM! Your now opening the gateway to a million terrible creatures that will send you insane and wear you!!! Well done son you’ve doomed us all!! I dunno if the moral of the movie is to just be mindful of what your doing, but it’s unusual how it does suggest that without visiting Miskatonic University you too can make friends with Kaajh’Kaalbh.
It seems that this is going to be one of those movies that will be totally blasted by the popular kids, only because it will involve thinking and doesn’t slaughter tons of teens that they can identify with. If you’re a hard core Lovecraft fan or enjoy a good horror movie, then get in there and watch this, don’t walk.. RUN, go get yourself a copy it’s much better than it advertises itself as.
Banshee chapter works slowly as a whodunit at first with our heroine gathering information and evidence from a range of great sources, driving out into the desert alone and by the time the magic starts to work.. and the magic is dark and damning, it’s around the same time that we find ourselves in a claustrophobic abandoned installation that was the headquarters of Project MKUltra and by this time after all the shocks and tension we are wiped the fuck out, any small noise or scare and at some points it’s just too much.
The film is a mess structurally; it feels like a fake documentary but only at times. At some points there is a roaming camera and other times it flicks back to just being a film. It seems unclear as to which direction it’s actually trying to take, but that aside it’s just a small downside to a brilliant movie. One other things that was a tiny let down is part of the ending, I don’t want to give anything away it’s brilliant and gave me yet again ANOTHER reason to leave the light on
V: I adore this movie, literally while watching it I was listing it as one of the best films of the year. I am totally besotted with how it does link in with two things I adore researching, both numbers stations and DMT, although I have to admit that it’s kinda put me off them a little but I’m sure it’s only temporary. One the worst things this film did was advertise itself with that god awful poster, it looks like it should be long with Pin or Anatomy more than a dark twisted story like this. But still after you get past that and actually try it out, it’s a very effective horror movie, it’s not perfect but it’s brilliant. It was great seeing Levine acting like the underdogs hero Hunter S Thompson and there is one scene when he and Anna are out in the desert and he’s describing the Lovecraft book “From Beyond” and it wasn’t until that point that I actually realised that his IS From Beyond, it’s so on point and yet dis-attached at the same time, it’s honestly a bountiful tribute.
But ,yes… I did sleep with the lights on for a few nights… I’m not afraid to admit that.
Rating – 9/10
R: From Beyond (1986) Borderlands (2013) , The Conspiracy (2012) , Taking of Debroah Logan (2014) , The Dyatlov Pass /Devils Pass (2013)
5B : DMT Movies
L: Lovecraft films, Modern Horrors that actually scare me, Best Films of 2013, Movies that bring it home.
PD : Post Discussion to come