found footage

[Movie Review] Banshee Chapter (2013) ★★★★☆

Anne outside in the dark with a flashlight and a walkie talkie in Banshee Chapter 2013

Banshee Chapter fine-tunes your brain to pick up some real scares.


Banshee Chapter is a found footage film but mostly shot as a traditional film with some found footage scenes in the mix. It’s a paranormal mystery film with lots of effective jump scares. Despite the cliches customary to this type of filming, the dark spaces, the night time, the jump scares, the creepy distorted faces and the sound effects, it’s a surprisingly well-made and effective horror film. 

Due to the way these cliches are put to use and the manner in which the story unfolds with an unlikely partnering and an ominous investigation, it gets really scary. With a slow pace it patiently builds up scares and a creepy atmosphere where anything can jump at you out of the shadows. It is a highly engrossing film that conjures up a feeling of terror and unease the entire duration of the film.

The story is based on real-life hallucinogenic drug experiments on people by the American Government back in the sixties and was called MKUltra. While also loosely based on the fantastical story From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft it crafts up an original story with realistic characters, weird events and very creepy entities. 


Plot

Journalist Anne Roland investigates the mysterious disappearance of her college friend and wanna-be news writer James Hirsch who vanished after taking an experimental drugs called MK-Ultra. His friend Renny who filmed the whole ordeal went missing too. She meets up with writer Thomas Blackburn who presumably knows more. Now Anne is determined to find out the truth and comes across a sinister plan and dangerous entities.


Why you should watch it

If you are a fan of Paranormal Activity (2007) then you should really enjoy this one. With minimal efforts and cliches well put to use, this film gives genuine jump scares while the whole film has an overall foreboding and ominous feeling. Something lurks in the shadows and is not afraid to jump at you. Not at the most unexpected times, but even when you expect something, the timing is excellent and the pace at which the tension is slowly build up, causes your nerves to twitch. 

The jump scares are very effective and does the trick every time. The scary look of the vanished people who jump at you, are very creepy. The entities barely give themselves away, but the glimpses we do get of them are terrifying.

The sound effects are restricted to a minimum. But the broadcasting on the radio, the music tune that sounds like an ice cream truck (there’s always a horror vibe when it comes to ice cream trucks) and then the counting of numbers by an almost childish voice is creepy as hell. When Anne screams she nearly blows up the microphone, intended or not, it adds to the whole creepy vibe. 

The way the story unfolds alternating between found footage of the experiments in the sixties, the experiment of James and the traditional filming when we follow Anne’s investigation, keeps things interesting and not only functions as a gimmick, but comes to a complete circle at the end of the film. Some flashbacks showing footage of Anne and James together explain her motivation to begin her search for the truth, and when she’s well on her way she has to stick with it for other more sinister reasons. 

The premise is simple, the way the story is told and unravels is clear and gives enough space for the scares and the great buildup of tension and a feeling of dread and terror. The acting and lines are not always at its best, but it never hinders the plot or the scares. The unlikely partnership between Anne and the eccentric writer Thomas Blackburn is unusual but works very well and makes the setup a fresh one. 


My favorite part

This is not a film for people who either don’t like jumps scares for several reasons or who don’t like conspiracy films. It’s a film that enjoys the jump scares but wants to surprise. It builds up an overall tension that keeps increasing, and the dreadful feeling that behind every corner something terrible and evil awaits is constantly present. It’s the type of film that leaves you with a relentless feeling of unease afterwards, the feeling that something is in the room with you and you’re afraid to turn out the light. If you’re into this kind of films, you really going to love this. I certainly did. 

Horror movies don’t scare me that easily, but this type of films, they scare me every time. So which part did I like best? The ones that scared me the most. The end of the first scene, with James en Renny, has a big scare and a great buildup. And that scary music on the radio gives me the creeps aggravated by the reciting of numbers. But the scene when Anne is alone in her car recording herself and listening to the broadcast is also a very well build up scene full of anticipation and that’s only half of the scare. And last but not least wait for the extremely creepy face in the pipe.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Banshee Chapter is directed and written by Blair Erickson and cowritten by Daniel J. Healy. It stars Katia Winter (Anne), Ted Levine (Thomas), and Michael McMillian (James). 

Duration: 87 minutes. Music: Andreas Leidinger. Cinematography: Jeremy Obertone. Edited by: Jacques Gravett. Produced by: Sean Akers, Christian Arnold-Beutel, Corey Moose, Stephanie Riggs. Production companies: Sunchaser Entertainment, Before The Door Pictures, Favorit Film. Distributed by: XLrator Media.


Check the trailer below