Scream of the Banshee (2011)

Rating:

USA. 2011.

Crew

Director – Steven C. Miller, Screenplay – Anthony C. Ferrante, Story – Anthony C. Ferrante & Jacob Nair, Producers – Moshe Diamant & Anthony C. Ferrante, Photography – Andy Strahorn, Music – Ryan Dodson, Visual Effects Supervisor – D.J. Shea, Makeup Effects Supervisor – Vincent J. Guastini, Production Design – Hannah Beachler. Production Company – After Dark Films/Signature Pictures

Cast

Lauren Holly (Professor Isla Whalen), Lance Henrikson [Henriksen] (Professor Broderick Duncan), Todd Haberkom (Otto), Leanne Cochran (Janie), Eric F. Adams (Dr Samuel Page), Marcelle Baer (Shayla Whalen), Garrett Hines (Kurtis), Edrick Browne (Officer Pete Sioux), Lucy Hale (Lauren)


Plot

At California’s Santa Mira University, Professor Isla Whalen receives a box containing a gauntlet that dates from 12th Century Ireland. The box also contains a map that her assistants discover leads to a room hidden in the department’s archives. This contains an armoured box that can be opened once the gauntlet is placed on it. The box is found to contain a hideous mummified head that disintegrates moments after being exposed to air. What they discover is that they have unleashed a banshee of Irish legend that appears as a hideous hag and kills its victims with a piercing scream. As the banshee now comes after them, they realise the only hope of defeating it is to find the discredited former department head who has become a crank obsessed with the banshee.


Scream of the Banshee is a typical film that the Syfy Channel churns out – the cheaply produced monster movie. The channel seems overrun by this sort of filler material. You can see the dismal area that Scream of the Banshee is heading down into as the names come up on the credits – Courtney Solomon, director of films such as Dungeons & Dragons (2000) and An American Haunting (2005), who nowadays produces much in the way of this cheap video-released fodder, and Anthony C. Ferrante, a makeup effects supervisor on various films who turned director with the terrible Boo (2005) and Headless Horseman (2007), and especially Lance Henriksen, a good actor who has appeared in too many bad genre movies. Henriksen does not necessarily spell a bad movie but the fact that he is ignominiously spelled as Lance Henrikson on the opening credits bodes poorly for Scream of the Banshee before it even starts.

With Scream of the Banshee, you get the impression that all the filmmakers did was search around for some creature of legend that had been little used before and attached that to the standard formula for the Syfy Channel monster movie. The banshee had been used before on film in works drawn from Irish myth such as Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) and the low-budget Cry (2009), as well as the Banshee episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater (1986-92) starring Peter O’Toole, although surprisingly not in Cry of the Banshee (1970). In Irish legend, the banshee is no more than a woman (sometimes an old hag, sometimes a beautiful woman) of supernatural origin who wails to foretell someone’s death – there is nothing about the banshee actually causing a person’s death. That does not give Scream of the Banshee much to go on and so all we get is an all-purpose monster that looks like a female hag that screams and kills victims. Any explanation for what is going on is artfully hidden in a series of nonsensically rambling video broadcasts by Lance Henriksen (or Henrikson as the titles seem to prefer).

Scream of the Banshee is about as processed a piece of formula filmmaking as it gets. It has been made without any feeling or originality placed into it beyond the formula. The film has been conceived as and seems only interested in the provision of a series of frequently ridiculous makeup effects as members of the supporting cast are despatched every few minutes – Edrick Browne gets his face torn off; Leanne Cochran tears her eyeballs out; Marcelle Baer sees herself turn into the old hag in the mirror and is then dragged under the bed and hallucinates drowning in a pool of blood that appears out of nowhere; while Eric F. Adams sees a giant hand reaching out at him from a piece of projected film.

The female lead is Lauren Holly, who was once seen as a hot name in the early 1990s and due to a relationship with Jim Carrey, although had faded from sight by the end of the decade – her career not being helped by appearing in flops like Down Periscope (1996) and Turbulence (1997). Nowadays, she ekes out a career largely by playing bit parts in tv episodes and guest roles in films like this. Here she maintains a competent and serious front, even if the show around her is thoroughly shabby hackwork. Lance Henriksen at least comes to the fore with an entertainingly mad performance at the climax. The film gives the impression that they were only able to afford Henriksen’s services for a couple of days shooting – he only appears at the climax and throughout in brief snippets seen on video. The rest of the cast members are all unknowns.

Director Steven C. Miller has become a regular genre contributor. He has also made the zombie film Automaton Transfusion (2006); The Aggression Scale (2012) about a disturbed kid defending his home against hitmen; the Christmas slasher film Silent Night (2012); and the children’s horror film Under the Bed (2012).



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