The good news is that first-time director Blair Erickson can only improve. The bad news is that there’s a long way to go. With an executive producer like American Horror Story and Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, one would hope for a better outcome than The Banshee Chapter — or at least a script that isn’t a total mess that relies on jump scares. The film starts out as a found footage piece, in which a guy has inexplicably come across some insanely hard to find drug that looks like Windex that has been bravely acquired by from “some friends in Colorado”. We hear some sort of static-ridden radio sing-song tune that sounds like an ice cream truck jingle, the video flickers, and we see the guy’s eyes bleed.
Suddenly, he disappears and the cops are on his friend, wondering where he is. We then follow the missing guy’s reporter friend Anna, played by Katia Winter (of Dexter and Sleepy Hollow) as she tries to find him. After entering his home, she sifts through all kinds of evidence, because clearly the police can’t be bothered to take any of it for their investigation. Anyway, she of course finds a clue that leads her to those Colorado friends, who just happens to come in the form of Ted Levine, basically playing Hunter S. Thompson, because why not? Levine’s acting is the film’s sole bright spot.
They experiment with the drug, as the image of her friend’s bleeding eyes wasn’t enough to deter them, and then are encroached upon by the static jingle and more jump scares. They flee/set out to find some answers, and they do find a few, but the payoff is just not enough to NOT cause this 87-minute film to feel as if it is more than double its running time. The Banshee Chapter is essentially a modern, pseudo-found footage re-envisioning of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “From Beyond”, 95% comprised of medium-wide shots. This redo is a re-don’t.