Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Steven C. Miller
Cast: Lauren Holly, Lance Henriksen, Eric F. Adams, Todd Haberkorn
The release of Scream of the Banshee marked one of those rare occasions in which I was really pumped to see an After Dark flick hit shelves. As it turned out, it wasn’t a marvelous picture, but it had enough quality moments going for it to consider it a fair release from After Dark. Would I run out with the intention of buying it tomorrow if I knew it was going on sale? Nah. But I’d check it out again if I caught is on the boob tube.
The story sees an archeological professor and a few of her pupils unearth an ancient box of some sort. A little fumbling and the group manages to open the box, but it’s a mistake that triggers a series of brutal murders, as this relic holds the head of a long dormant banshee, eager to haunt the first to release the creature from its confines… And anyone else in close proximity. It goes without saying that this little group is in for some trouble.
It’s a solid setup that showcases some nice creature effects, and gives viewers a chance to get a sound feel for the film’s focal characters in a very brief timespan. Unfortunately, the train derails within 40 minutes, leaving a whole hell of a lot to be desired while delivering little more than some good special effects and a pair of impressive performances from Lauren Holly and Todd Haberkorn.
Relative newcomer Todd Haberkorn (who portrays student Otto) is the film’s saving grace. While Lauren Holly is enjoyable, it’s Haberkorn that provides the pictures only truly likeable character. For the most part, the remainder of the cast is expendable, as they’re little more than annoying banshee fodder. I guess in a way, that almost makes their deaths more entertaining.
There’s a wealth of potential on hand, but somehow, director Steven C. Miller (who helmed Silent Night and Under the Bed, two flicks I really enjoy) and scribes Anthony C. Ferrante and Jacob Hair lose control of the situation so fast that it’s a little jarring to viewers. Talk about an unexpected monkey wrench. The smooth launch of this one turns hideously unenjoyable so quick I can’t justify calling it a good film, despite the kick ass introductory scenes.
The pacing works well, and the story is decent, but there’s an element of intrigue that’s sorely missed. It’s entertaining seeing some nice practical effects, but unfortunately, they’re not strong enough to keep viewers truly tuned in. Midway through the picture I found myself asking one question, why am I still watching this? That’s never a positive place to be in when you’re checking out an anticipated flick. I suppose I finished the film just for the sake of this review, to be completely honest.
Truth be told, Scream of the Banshee is awkward as all hell, and near impossible to recommend. A lot of situations feel uncomfortable or out of place, and it feels as though the casting director just wanted the opportunity to recruit the chops of Lance Henrickson, whether his character fit the film, or the continuity of the film or not. I believe (I stress the word believe) the idea behind the inclusion of Henrickson’s character was meant to act as a plot “twist”, but the attempt fails miserably, and only serves to dilute what could have potentially been a fun and creepy straight forward tale. For what it’s worth, there’s a cool first act to soak, which is more than can be said for a lot of other After Dark releases.