The second film of the weekend to utilise the third dimension, Banshee Chapter sounds at first conventional – a journalist, Anne (Katia Winter, of the Sleepy Hollow TV series) is shocked by the sudden disappearance of her friend James (Michael McMillan, True Blood) and so decides to investigate, which leads her into danger. However, when the MK Ultra experiments, numbers stations and a Hunter S Thompson-esque writer come into the mix, it soon becomes clear that this is something quite different to the norm.
Having a film surrounding the myths involving the MK Ultra experiments designed and shot in 3D sounded like a match made in heaven, but unfortunately the end results are disappointing. Even archive footage is converted for the extra dimension, which diminishes impact elsewhere, and the use of only natural lighting added to a lot of night or dark scenes prevent the 3D making the impact it could and leaving sadly a bit of a missed opportunity.
With that taken to one side, the visuals are often strong and in conjunction with fantastic sound design make for a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Pacing is tight, and performances are good throughout – as well as the lead Ted Levine (The Bridge, Monk) deserves note for a great turn as the Hunter S Thompson-inspired Thomas Blackburn.
Aside from the slight misstep with its treatment of 3D, Banshee Chapter is an excellent feature debut for writer/director Blair Erickson. Gripping, disturbing and properly creepy, it’s one I can’t wait to watch again. ****