After seeing some decent horror films last year I’m getting back into my horror groove. However so far this year there doesn’t seem to have been any horror films that have caught my eye. Can conspiracy theory Banshee Chapter give me new hope?
Inspired by the dug experiments performed by the United States Government over the years, the Banshee Chapter follows journalist Anne (Katia Winter) as she tries to find her friend James (Michael McMillian) who was investigating the drug dimethyltryptamine-19 (DMT-19) used during Project MKUltra. Her search leads her to writer Thomas Blackburn ( Ted Levine) and discovers the dark secret behind the experiments.
This film is so frustrating because its such a mixed bag. On the one hand you have some decent scares, an interesting premise and competent enough acting. But then the film takes all the things that are good and messes it up.
There is a good build of tension at the beginning as we’re watching the camera footage of James taking the drug and witness his (possibly) last moments. The music that plays on the radio is creepy as hell and when everything went tits up I was getting properly freaked out.
The film is intercut with “found” footage of the experiments done in the 1960s. Shot in black and white and with a lot of things hidden from the screen it’s actually quite effective and terrifying. More of this would have been much more interesting.
So for two-thirds of the movie I was enjoying it. However as things go along the more you think about the stupidity of the characters. “Yes lets take some experimental drug by the government given to me by people I don’t really know, what could go wrong!” “Yes I’ll go out to the desert by myself to investigate strange occurences that won’t freak me out.” In my mind I kept thinking of Ghostface from Scream when he mocks Drew Barrymore’s stupidity by saying “Why don’t you just go and investigate a strange noise or something.” AND THEN SOMEONE IN THE BANSHEE CHAPTER WENT TO INVESTIGATE A STRANGE NOISE!
I know horror films would not exist if characters made smart decisions but faced with one stupid choice after another really got on my nerves after a while and was undermining the tension of the film.
The stupidity of the main characters is one thing, but then you have the stupidity of the US government in the film. First of all everyone seems to be able to get a copy of the leaked footage from the supposedly secret experiments as well as get their hands on the drugs, then later the protagonists manage to find a super-secret base in the desert relatively easily, and what do they find? THE DOOR IS OPEN! What’s the point in a big cover up if you’re going to leave the front door wide open for anyone to enter?
The ending also did not make much sense. After the film I had to go online to check what had happened and the answer just left me with even more questions and plot-holes to think over.
Maybe I was over thinking things too much. But to me the Banshee Chapter did not live up the hype I had read about it. Shame as it has a good premise but the execution leaved much to be desired.
Rating 2.5/5-fun to start with but too many plot holes and a rubbish ending fails to make this properly scary