I have to say that over the years low-budget horror has definitely improved. I have found that most of the good ones rely less on special effects and work hard to make the most of the effects that they do employ. I think this is a challenging task in a world where special effects seem to be the rule (and here I’m thinking about the continually growing 3-D market). So, I am always excited when I find films that manage to deliver with minimal effects and a low price tag.
Banshee Chapter is one of those movies. I was hesitant to watch this one at first because the market has become so saturated with found footage type movies, but this one takes a little bit different approach. The movie starts by combining a selection of real life footage from news stories and press conferences with similarly filmed footage of psychological experiments done by the military. The gist of the storyline is that a young reporter, Anne (Katia Winter), is looking for answers to what happened to her friend James (Michael McMillan) who ingested an experimental drug, DMT, and then mysteriously went missing. Found footage from the experiment at his home prompts her investigation and along the way she teams up with a gonzo type 60s rabble rouser, Thomas Blackburn (Michael Levine). I will admit that the insertion of this “wild and crazy” character kind of put me off at first, but the character is actually played well by Levine and it was easy for me to get past my initial reaction.
The movie combines several conspiracy theories: numbers stations, military testing of psychedelic drugs, etc. There are spooky, dark desert settings, abandoned housing sub-divisions, dark underground bunkers, and, of course, a truly creepy basement scene. The best part about this movie, though, was that it was actually scary! I watch a lot of horror, and so it’s not very often that I am actually kind of spooked, but this movie managed it. It made me jump several times, and some of those times were even when I was almost expecting to jump – and it still made me jump anyway. It was great fun!