A young journalist (Katia Winter), follows the trail of an illegal government research chemical that might have caused the disappearance of her close friend (Michael McMillan) after testing it on himself as an experiment. After tracing the substance to the desert ranch of an infamous 70s novelist (Ted Levine), she is drawn into an experience of terror and frightening entities that she cannot escape. The evidence leads her into the disturbing world of secret black ops, chemical projects and shadowy disfigured entities. Anne will do anything to uncover what or who caused her friend's disappearance. But to her horror, she discovers that it wants to find her, too.
Most modern horror films are made using a certain formula, not in how the script is written or fashioned but in how the film is financed and produced. The age of low budget, experimental horror films has hit and it doesn’t seem to be letting go. The films find premises that can be developed easily and with a small amount of money while still making it scary and involving. The Banshee Chapter adheres to this formula but still keeps things interesting.
The film follows reporter Anna (Katia Winter) as she searches for answers as to why her best friend went missing years earlier. When she hits a wall she finds herself reaching out to an aging writer who introduces to the same drug that caused her friend to disappear. The effects of the drug are completely unknown but what is known is that they are utterly horrifying.
While the tale man be a little one note with a story that never really pushes the boundaries or tests viewers expectations it does use the films story to craft some really nice frights. Director Blair Erickson completely commands the spaces used in the film to capitalize on the tension. The constant cutting between conventional shots and found footage proves slightly enfuriating as it adds little to anything to the story but the film keeps you guessing as it keeps a lump in your throat for most of the film’s run.
The moments when the film slows down to quickly deal with plot though is where the film falls flat. Anna, an American journalist sounds like Elizabeth Bennet and Katia Winter is forced to run and scream for most of the films run with little being done to develop her as a character, despite the fact she may or may not have loved her missing friend, a point that is picked up and dropped just as easily.
There is plenty to hate with Banshee Chapter but there is also plenty to respect and enjoy. The scares are real, the twists feel natural and unexpected and Ted Levine makes a cliched character entertaining by providing a much needed dose of camp but in the end the film has the same problem as The Purge, it has a nice concept but never really knows where its going.