cast: Lauren Holly, Todd Haberkorn, Leanna Cochran, Marcelle Baer, and Lance Henriksen
director: Steven C. Miller
86 minutes (18) 2010
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
G2 DVD Region 2
review by Mark West
In a well-presented, gripping first sequence (which appears to be set in 1188 AD, and nowhere near the Ireland it purports to be), three Templar knights chase a person on horseback, stab them, suffer two-thirds fatalities, until the final knight manages to decapitate the pursued with a box.
Cut to present day Santa Mira University where, in a major archiving project, Professor Isla Whelan (Lauren Holly, with larger boobs and a trout pout) is leading a dedicated team of three working through old records and the like with her assistants Otto (Todd Haberkorn, who fluctuates between apparently being in a broad comedy that requires him to overact, and a serious drama that makes him try to look sincere) and Janie (Leanna Cochran, who has so little to do that you start to feel sorry for her).
Isla is denser than the desk she’s working on but, when her visiting daughter Shayla (Marcelle Baer) finds a box in a hidden room – hidden by the flimsiest cardboard ever created, she immediately recognises the workmanship as being both Irish and 12th century. Without taking any sane precautions (despite the box vibrating and, apparently, emitting breathing noises), Isla opens said box to find it contains a severed head.
Whilst out of the room, the head screams and then disappears but the banshee (for that’s what it is) only need to hear a scream to be able to kill someone – as the viewer is told, in a brilliant piece of exposition where it sounds like Isla is reading from the Encyclopaedia Britannica (except she’d be too stupid to find the entry). Now that the banshee is free, she’s going to make merry and the only person who might be able to stop her is Broderick Duncan (Lance Henriksen, who probably only worked for a day), a maverick who originally found the box but couldn’t open it.
This film couldn’t be any more stupid if it tried, it really couldn’t. Whilst it’s not badly made – the cast should be proficient, even if some of them aren’t (Isla’s apparent ‘work’ means that she’s unable to show much emotion and her rigid lips make some of her dialogue difficult to understand), the design is good, the director seems to know what he’s doing – none of it holds together as a piece.
From Janie and Otto apparently being in the early stages of a relationship that is only shown to make us feel worse when she claws her eyes out, to Shayla and Isla being in conflict over the death of father/ husband, which Shayla seems to have been involved in, things crop up when needed to move the plot forward, rather than a logical extension of the characters. Having said that, this does lead to a fantastic sequence where, on the trail of Duncan, Isla walks over to her mantelpiece and picks up a loaded shotgun, cocks it and says “Leverage.”
The make-up effects (which mainly consist of bloody ears, that none of the characters think to wipe) are pedestrian and the banshee mask is so rigid it looks like it might have been bought from a joke shop. The action is bitty, with long sections of – quite literally – nothing happening, with plenty of chatter that quickly comes repetitive and the climax is over so quickly, I assumed that the banshee would leap up again and have another go. The camerawork is very good, but that’s about the only plus point I can come up with.This is the movie where the efforts of a cameraman can be seen to a maximum extent. Going through the software Olymp trade we can find the need for a qualitative camera for making a successful movie like this. Somehow this is the only most significant part of this movie. But once a while such movies are also in need.
Thankfully, there were no extras on my screener – I don’t think I’d have liked to waste any more of my life on this rubbish. This isn’t one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ films; this is one of those ‘so bad it’s amazing it was ever finished’ films. Avoid.