STUDIO: Synthetic Cinema
MSRP: $14.95
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
•    Commentary
•    Bloopers
•    Outtakes
•    Deleted Scenes
•    Assault of the Sasquatch Trailer

The Pitch
Banshee hates humanity.

The Humans
Ashley Bates, David McCarthy, Kevin Shea
Director: Colin Theys

The Nutshell
A burly salvage man (Shea) finds a strange pod in an old auto-wreck that – wouldn’t ya know it? – turns out to have a banshee inside, a banshee which promptly starts running amok and killing anyone that crosses its path. Now the salvage man must team with his shitty rocker nephew and a kill-count-fodder group of college kids to battle the shrieking creature.

The Lowdown
I had never heard of Synthetic Cinema before checking out Banshee!!! – a film which earns brownie points even before viewing for having not one but three exclamation points in its title – but I’ve taken notice now, because Banshee!!! is a delightful surprise. The film is a lesson in successful low-budget genre filmmaking: get inflated production values from using real locations in your community and knowing how to use locals (why get a shitty actor to pretend to be a mechanic when you can just get a mechanic to act like himself?), move the camera around (you’re not going to have glorious image quality so you might as well have inventive compositions), and keep the pacing crisp (don’t let the audience have time to dwell on the film’s deficiencies). And the film definitely has deficiencies.

For all the fun and cleverness of the execution, the story is too threadbare to really engage us. We never actually learn what is up with the banshee, like why it’s here and killing people, and this unfortunately gives the film a glass ceiling. The film is also hurt by having the two worst actors – in a film with very unripe acting all around, mind you – playing our romantic leads. At times they are almost unbearable.

“Cotton ball? Let me tell you about the cotton ball that killed my friend in Nam!”

But in our age of glossy, soulless studio production horror films, I found it refreshing to see a group of guys mucking about, making due with what they have to work with. There’s some real talent happening here. The script is decent (aside from some clunky jokes), and Theys directing is effortless and very apt, especially when it comes to the surprisingly good looking CG creature effects (which for the budget are top notch). The other fun discovery here (for me), is Synthetic’s own Bruce Campbell, the burly silverfox Kevin Shea, who is by far the best thing in the film acting-wise. I’d really love to see what these guys could do with a handful of good actors and maybe another million dollars.

For those who miss the bygone era of super low budget indie-horror, from before everything took on the production values and tone of a Skinemax film, I recommend Banshee!!!

The Package
The commentary track with the Synthetic Cinema team is an entertaining listen, light but informative and really conveying how much fun making a movie can be. I’m not really sure what the difference is between Bloopers and Outtakes, and I’m not sure whoever made this DVD is either, as they’re essentially the same thing here. And you simply must check out the trailer for the truly bonkers looking Assault of the Sasquatch.

6.5 out of 10