Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Scream of the Banshee (2011)

This Banshee's Best On Mute

Today we have ourselves another After Dark Original. Unfortunately, this film isn't all that original. Within moments of the opening credits, the phrase "SyFy presents" is surely enough to send a nervous chill down the spine of any viewer. This is also the only moment in Scream of the Banshee that will send a chill down the spine of any viewer, as this made-for-TV horror film fails to pack any punch or originality. Not even an appearance by horror veteran Lance Henriksen could save this banshee's scream from being no more than a faint whisper.

The story begins with a group of Templar knights chasing down a banshee in medieval-ish Ireland. After losing many men to her violent screams, one brave knight utilizes a special metal cross that not only severs the banshee's head, but turns into a box to keep the head locked away forever. Fast forward to present day where archaeology professor Isla Whelan (Lauren Holly, Dumb and Dumber) and her students are attempting to restore old artifacts that have been stored in an old building at the university. After discovering a fake wall that's been hidden behind a large shelf, the team discovers the metal box from the beginning of the film. Using a previously found knight's glove to unlock the box, Isla is shocked to find the well-preserved head of the banshee (though she assumes it's a deformed person or animal from centuries past). After leaving the room, the banshee opens its eyes and lets out a piercing scream, causing everyone's ears to bleed before the head catches fire and completely vanishes. Now in a Ringu-esque situation, the team discovers that those who have heard the scream of the banshee are destined to die. The only clue to defeating the banshee is in contacting a former professor (an oddly bloated Henrikson) who has gone mad after originally discovering the box years prior.

There really isn't much to be said for Scream of the Banshee. It's your average SyFy horror film with decent production standards, terrible effects standards, and moderate acting throughout. While there are a few jump-scares thrown in for good measure, the film fails to deliver any true terror or anything remotely close to frightening as the entire film is based on the concept of "If you don't scream, the banshee can't kill you." So what does everyone do when the banshee appears? You got it. Scream. Then they die a "whatever" death and the audience is left without any satisfaction whatsoever.

The story teeters on boring, especially with Henrikson's role as he's only shown through video logs throughout most of the film. By the time he makes his grand entrance in the ending, he's lacking so much character development or motive that it looks like just another "crazy" role for the wonderful actor.

The only redeeming quality in the film is the casting of Marcelle Baer as Isla's gothy-emo daughter, Shayla. Easy on the eyes and a pretty decent actress, Baer's sexy physique and pretty face were probably the only thing that got me through this movie without screaming like a banshee myself.

Overall, this is an easily avoidable film that's actually far too vacuous for even After Dark's standards. Unless you've had an irrational fear of banshees your entire life (which easily makes you a huge wuss), then you'll find nothing here but unfiltered noise with little behind it.

1.5/5 Stars

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