Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Banshee Chapter

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Banshee Chapter (2013)  Dir. Blair Erickson

This movie was chosen on a whim, mainly because I saw the description mention “government conspiracies”, and placing that into a horror movie can only yield interesting results. And it did. I also noticed that this movie played with some elements of found footage, and I was surprised how much it worked, as sparingly as it was used. And I’m thankful that we did not get a complete rehash of found footage, as much as I love it, playing with the formula is always fun.The situating of the conspiracy is nicely done, placing it among other mainstays such as numbers stations and LSD experimentation. Actually, the conspiracy plays with LSD, as it is the famed MK Ultra program testing that the government has finally acknowledged and apologized for – but I don’t think that apology went far enough for the characters of this film.

One bright feature of the movie is Ted Levine, the lotion application guru himself, portraying a not-so-subtle homage to Hunter S. Thompson and the conspiracies surrounding him as well. Levine is the guy who should play Thompson if there are any movies portraying the late in life Thompson because Levine nailed this iteration. Anyways, the movie, which does include a Thompson homage, is about an investigation into the disappearance of a journalist’s colleague and possible former lover, who took a dose of some epic acid. Well, it wasn’t acid, it was pure DMT 19, taken straight from the brain. After the dosage, captured on VHS for all to see, things go down hill from there. The journalist, Anne, and her lost colleague, James, collaborated on stories together in their college and early professional days, so she has not only a personal connection, but a professional obligation as well.

The eventual revelation is that all people who took this pure extraction of DMT wound up seeing and hearing transmissions from beyond normal perception. They were not hallucinating, as is the case with most of these types of drugs, but they began to experience other dimensions. This sorta seemed familiar, and I could kick myself for not seeing the references to Lovecraft sooner. This time, the government is at fault for putting this into the world, as one, perhaps more of its experiment subjects made it out of the lab and into the world proper. Luckily, they don’t fall down that rabbit hole of “the gub’ment gonna kill us all,” but instead keeps it localized. Sort of. It’s all fun, no real accusations. But the film does use actual interviews with MKU scientists and the real apology for the experiments issued by former President Clinton during his administration. It tries to blend fact and fiction, and does it well, for the most part, but because this movie is not purely committed to found footage, the impact is lessened. None the less, it’s still very fun and worth a viewing.

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