Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Blair Erickson|
|Produced by||Zachary Quinto|
|Screenplay by||Blair Erickson|
|Story by||Daniel J. Healy|
by H. P. Lovecraft
|Music by||Andreas Weidinger|
|Edited by||Jacques Gravett|
Before the Door Pictures
XLrator Media (US)|
Intense Distribution & 101 Films (UK)
Banshee Chapter (sometimes referred to as The Banshee Chapter) is a 2013 American horror film and the directorial debut of Blair Erickson. The film had its first screening at the Fantasy Filmfest on August 22, 2013 and released on video on demand on December 12 of the same year. Banshee Chapter stars Katia Winter as a journalist who is trying to discover what happened to a missing friend. The film is loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story "From Beyond" and the 1986 film From Beyond.
The movie begins with stock footage of President Clinton and other people announcing the existence of the government experiment Project MKUltra. The scene then cuts away to camera footage of James Hirsch (Michael McMillian), a young man investigating Project MKUltra. With a friend filming him, James takes the drug used in the experiments, dimethyltryptamine-19 (DMT-19). Soon, bizarre music and voices begin to broadcast from a nearby radio and James becomes extremely anxious, announcing that something is coming towards the house and that it wants to "wear them". A large, shadowy figure rushes by the window and the camera's footage cuts in and out, ultimately ending with a shot of James with all-black eyes and a disfigured face.
The movie then shifts to Anne (Katia Winter) a reporter who attended college with James. She is concerned over his disappearance, as James's friend also mysteriously disappeared a few days after he was questioned by the police. Anne investigates James's house and discovers a VHS cassette that contains footage of the MKUltra experiments as well as a book of notes about the project. Curious about some of the things found in the house — particularly some information about radio waves — Anne goes to a local expert and discovers that the bizarre radio broadcast heard by James is a phantom radio station, which can only be tuned into in the desert, at a certain time of night. Anne drives out into the desert after dark and is able to pick up the broadcast, but flees when a monstrous form appears from the darkness.
Anne discovers that a mention of "Friends in Colorado" in James's notes is related to the counter-culture writer Thomas Blackburn (Ted Levine), a Hunter S. Thompson-esque figure known for his drug use and unpredictable behavior. She tries to contact him by phone and is angrily rebuffed when she mentions Project MKUltra. Anne travels to Blackburn's home and lies to gain his confidence, only to discover that Thomas has seen through her ruse and tricked her into taking DMT-19 that his friend Callie (Jenny Gabrielle), has made. The night quickly sours as Anne is angry at the deception, and Callie begins exhibiting the same behaviors that James did earlier in the film. Anne hears some of the bizarre music played by the phantom station and goes to investigate, only to be attacked by a strange entity. Callie suddenly exhibits the same black eyes and disfigurement as James did, and vomits blood onto the floor. An indeterminate time later, Anne and Thomas awaken to find Callie missing. They decide to go to Callie's house to find out more information about the DMT-19. Anne is nearly captured by Callie, who is now controlled by the entity. She and Thomas begin to realize that DMT-19 works as a "radio antenna" of sorts that allows otherworldly entities to broadcast signals to the people on the drug as well as take over their bodies. They also realize that the government never came up with DMT-19 but instead received instructions from the otherworldly entities and made the drug without realizing the full implication of their actions. In addition to the base chemical compound, scientists were also adding harvested material from the pineal gland of a female corpse, dubbed the "Primary Source", who returned to life during an experiment and attacked one of the doctors.
At this point Anne realizes that the signal is likely coming from the laboratory that performed the Project MKUltra experiments, which is in the same desert that the radio broadcast was coming from. Shortly after this revelation, Thomas reveals that he had lied about giving her DMT-19. Realizing that the entity will pursue her regardless, Anne resolves to put an end to the broadcast once and for all. She and Thomas travel out into the desert and discover the laboratory in an abandoned fallout shelter, taking a can of gasoline so that they may burn whatever they find. Inside, they discover a room full of radio equipment and a large tank. Upon inspecting a small porthole built into the side, Anne discovers that a pale figure with black eyes resides within (implied to be the "Primary Source"). At this point, the radio equipment comes to life and begins broadcasting the numbers station.
Realizing that they must burn the creature and the equipment, Anne hunts for the gasoline can, avoiding a grotesque figure who chases her. Thomas begins to bleed from the eyes and convulse violently. Apologizing to Anne, he shoots himself in the head. In a frenzy, Anne smashes open the porthole in the tank, pours the gasoline inside, and throws a lighter scavenged from Thomas' corpse. The resulting explosion knocks Anne unconscious. When she comes to, she finds the clothing worn by her friend James before his disappearance lying outside in the hallway, implying that the creature chasing her had been "wearing" James the whole time.
Anne is taken into police custody and one of her co-workers travels down to ensure that she is okay. She and Anne discuss the events that have happened so far, including the tape that Anne had discovered earlier in the movie. Part of the tape had been erased, but had been retrieved by a video forensics company. Anne then muses that she can't understand why James's friend disappeared, as he had never taken the drug. She begins to hear the phantom broadcast issuing from the room's intercom and realizes that the effects of the drug can be passed along by human touch, as she still saw the creatures despite never having taken the drug. She turns to discover that her co-worker (whose hand she held moments before) has been taken over by the entities. The film then cuts to the recovered footage on the tape, which reveals that a college-age Thomas Blackburn was one of the people who had taken part in Project MKUltra as a test subject.
- Ted Levine as Thomas Blackburn
- Katia Winter as Anne Roland
- Michael McMillian as James Hirsch
- Monique Candelaria as Patient 14
- Chad Brummett as Dr. Kessle
- Jenny Gabrielle as Callie
- J.D. Garfield as Elderly Doctor
- Alex Gianopoulos as Renny Seegan
- David Midthunder as Raoul
- Vivian Nesbitt as Olivia Kmiec
- Ben Samuels as Science Editor
- Cyd Schulte as Laura Henrik
- William Sterchi as Henry Cale
While creating Banshee Chapter, Erickson was inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, From Beyond, as well as the history of hallucinogenic drug experiments performed by the United States Government. Ted Levine was one of the first people cast for the movie, but casting the lead of Anne was more difficult and Erickson auditioned "several hundred" women before deciding on Katia Winter. Erickson also experienced difficulty with the film's limited budget and filming timeline, as they only had 28 days to film Banshee Chapter. As a result, some characters were eliminated from the beginning of the script in order to fit the limited shooting schedule.
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Critical reception for Banshee Chapter has been mostly positive and the film holds a rating of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes based upon 20 reviews. Common praise for the film centered around Winter and Levine's performances, with both Screen Daily and Fearnet marking the performances as a highlight.
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- Movie Review: Banshee Chapter | InSession Film
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- "The Banshee Chapter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "Banshee Chapter, The (2013)". Dread Central. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
- Weinberg, Scott. "FEARnet Movie Review: 'Banshee Chapter'". Fearnet. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
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