Year of Release: 2011
IMDB Rating: 4.3 / 10
Level of Awful: Low
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
In the interest of uniformity this movie has been ranked as having a ‘Low’ Level of Awful but, when compared to other Syfy gems such as Flu Birds, Sharktopus and Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus, this is a true masterpiece of cinematography. It’s one of those unfortunate movies that could have been really good but, mainly owing to a lack of budget, just wasn’t pulled together as nicely as it could have been. I wouldn’t rush out to rent it but if there comes that inevitable night when you can’t sleep and you’ve scrolled through every channel to find nothing more entertaining than Scream of the Banshee and yet another rerun of Keeping up with the Kardashians, go for the former.
We begin our journey in Ireland in the 12th century in the armoury of the local monastery. A group of Templar Knights is busy constructing and blessing a complex shield with the capability of transforming into a box. The reason for making the box? Banshee hunting. Now the banshee is a little creature from Irish folklore, usually associated with specific families, that scream when a member of their particular family is about to die. While they usually appear as a revolting old hag they generally can transform into any form of their choosing. Whilst a banshee certainly isn’t something you’d want to run into in a dark alley they aren’t generally seen as being malicious creatures. Since we’ve just been thrown into a Syfy b-movie, however, the banshee here is a mistress from hell that Nemesis herself would flee from in terror. While she is riding on horseback through the Irish countryside she is intercepted by the Knights. She manages to scream two of them into submission but is defeated by the third when he uses the shield / box on her, decapitating her and rendering her scream useless through some amazing 12th century sound proofing capabilities included in the box’s construction.
Flash forward to the present day where we find Prof. Isla Whelan and postgrad students Otto and Janie working in the local university’s ancient history / archaeology classrooms. With a major demonstration coming up the team is behind schedule and frantically trying to restore all the artifacts that are haphazardly lying around the floor. When Isla’s daughter Shayla shows up she is also put to work in the bowels of the building trying to find an inventory item that is listed on a map contained in the glove of a piece of armour that was sent to them. After breaking down the rotten wall and finding the room on the map the team finds only a single item: the box containing the banshee head. Since 12th century Irish legislation didn’t state that packaging should include the calorie count and ingredients in the product the group is completely unaware that they are busy handling a banshee head. The fact that the box vibrates and gives off muffled breathing and screaming sounds won’t deter them either and, with the use of the glove, manage to open the box, revealing the banshee’s rather gruesome face and teeth. Not long after the box is opened the head opens its mouth, screams, disappears, reappears with a body and begins its campus-wide reign of terror.
Now the banshee is a tricky creature to deal with because, while she is FUCKING UGLY, she is bound by a rather irritating little law that allows her to use her scream to scare her prey but she can’t actually kill them unless they scream back at her. Finding this out, of course, is a process of trial and error and some people get it right while others just don’t. The advantage that she does have is that as soon as someone has heard her scream (either live and unplugged or in a recorded format) she is allowed to stalk them until they eventually cave in. For Isla, Otto and Janie the problem that dawns on them is the question of who the hell will believe that they are being hunted by a creature from the depths of Irish folklore that they released from a box that had been lying in storage for a decade or so? Thankfully there’s one person who might be able to help: Broderick Duncan, a self-proclaimed Templar Knight who lost his job and mind while investigating the box and trying to figure out how to open it. Unfortunately Duncan has his own agenda and wants to learn how to control the banshee and use her as a weapon against all those who called him a mad man. Now it falls to Isla to save her grad students and daughter not only from the banshee but also from the deranged Duncan dressed in his tatty pyjamas and armed with a loaded shotgun.
Not the best movie I’ve ever seen and definitely not the worst but it has given me a little hope that Syfy might yet turn out a half-decent movie in the near future. Of course, like life on earth, Scream of the Banshee might just be the lone blue marble in an ever-expanding universe of horrible CGI and ‘VS’ creature flicks.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- 1954 was a good year for fossilised rats.
- Ancient historical artifacts should be stored under a leaking pipe.
- You can still hear perfectly well when your eardrums explode.
- Mother-daughter issues become particularly prominent when an ancient box full of evil Irish banshee head is brought into the picture.
- Banshees are talented illusionists.
- Banshees are a useful tactic to use when you are trying to get a girl into your bed.
- When hunting for a banshee a shotgun is all you need to get the information you need out of someone.
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE TRAILER