Ahhh yes. Here we go again with the third entry into the After Dark Original series. I’ve grown quite fond of the annual After Dark Horrorfest. Sure, it had a rocky beginning, but each year the selection of films became better and better. This year as you know, After Dark opted for something a bit different, they would be producing a series of “originals” in which they play a much larger role in the production of the films. SyFy will be premiering each of the films as a “SyFy Original”. So far they’ve aired “Husk”, “51”, and now “Scream of the Banshee”. Unfortunately, the results thus far have been less than desirable. Will this new film breathe some life into the series? Or will it further the record of mediocrity?
The general story has been done many times before, most notably with the Robert Kurtzman directed “Wishmaster”. Researchers stumble upon an ancient relic that unleashes a once imprisoned deadly creature. Get the picture? Replace the Djinn with a banshee, and the rest falls right in to place. Other films have followed this pattern, such as “Relic”, and “Mimic”, but as soon as the movie started, I immediately had flashbacks of watching “Wishmaster” for the first time. It’s eerily familiar in tone, as well as the overall setup, perhaps even production values as well. Lets face it, regardless of whether or not “Wishmaster” is considered a classic by those of us that grew up in the video store, it’s not much of a film, to be quite honest.
One of the biggest problems with this flick is the pacing. It takes forever to get going, and just when the banshee kicks it into gear, we come to a complete halt to locate an insane, and very out of shape Lance Henriksen. The body count is very low, and most of the on-screen blood and gore takes place during hallucinations. The actual creature is nothing special, though it’s commendable that the effects team handled the creature makeup practically, rather than slopping together a post-production CG effort. Now that I think about it, the banshee doesn’t really have that much screen-time. People perceive the creature differently, depending on… their own personal weaknesses? I’m not sure, it’s never explained. A banshee sometimes appears as a scraggly old hag, but a seductress to others.
I give credit where it’s due for digging up such an obscure, under-utilized supernatural creature. It is a cool concept, and paired with an actual script, some directorial talent, and some acting chops, an exciting experience could be crafted, unfortunately excitement and creativity were thrown under the bus for a quick cash-in. The acting is, in some scenes, unbearable. The cinematography is bland, the set design uninteresting, and the character development non-existent. We’re not told enough about the characters to care whether or not they live or die, and chemistry between the characters never develops. Every film like this needs a love interest, right? Well it’s sort of thrown in there, but nothing has led up to it, so when it happens, you don’t really care, and it doesn’t last long enough to matter in the grand scheme of things.
“Scream of the Banshee” gets kudos for handling the majority of it’s effects with latex and kayo syrup, but that’s it’s only redeeming quality. Sadly, it’s not enough to save this train-wreck of a film from continuing After Dark’s streak of failures this year. Three films in to the series, I’m fairly convinced that the suckage will continue. After the stellar year for the Horrorfest in 2010, this is saddening news. Hopefully they’ll get enough negative feedback from this run of films to revert back to the formula that works for them. Until then, I guess we’re stuck with this garbage.