An unjustly underappreciated Lovecraftian nightmare hallucinates reexamination as a cult classic
Horror fans tend to wear their inability to be genuinely terrified by onscreen scares as a badge of honor, but there aren’t many who made it through the brief 87 minutes of 2013’s Banshee Chapter without feeling at least the merest pang of fear.
Allowed to slip way too far under the radar at the time of its initial release, writer and director Blair Erickson’s harrowing feature-length debut has slowly been crawling its way towards cult classic status for the last decade, based entirely on the fact the Lovecraftian nightmare is completely, utterly, and absolutely capable of scaring even the most hardened gorehounds sh*tless.
A combination of found footage and traditional narrative filmmaking shot in native 3D, the story sees Katia Winter’s investigative journalist looking into the mysterious and unexplained disappearance of her friend, which she believes it tied to a secretive government experiment the authorities have been desperate to cover up. Diving deep into a labyrinth in search of answers, things swiftly take a turn for the existential and hallucinogenic, with the jump scares flowing thick and fast.
To give you an indication of how people feel about Banshee Chapter, the fact a Reddit thread shining a spotlight on the film has been taken over with such praise as “this movie scared the shit out of me,” “I found something about this movie to be absolutely horrifying,” “I was uncomfortable the whole movie,” and “I thought I was going to die for a moment” should tell you all that you need to know.
That’s a reputation very few horrors of the 21st Century can lay claim to, and it’s one that’s richly warranted.