The Banshee Chapter – synopsis.
Journalist Anne Roland explores the disturbing links behind her friend’s sudden disappearance, an ominous government research chemical, and a disturbing radio broadcast of unknown origin.
UKHS) Hi Blair, can I begin with asking if the whole issue of this type of Government ‘research’ was something you were aware of prior to the movie, or did your first knowledge come with the story from Daniel Healy?
BE) I had been an avid researcher of the subject for years before the story started to take shape. I found the idea fascinating and began writing drafts that speculated and explored all number of crazy areas. Daniel Healy helped me shape it into a much more solid narrative structure, and really bringing out the more terrifying aspects of the tale.
UKHS) I think the subject matter is fascinating, and with it being rooted in historical fact I found it to be a film that should really engage the viewer. How have you found the response since its release – both critically and from movie-goers?
BE) It seems to elicit quite a lot of terror from many audience members and
critics. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reviews and “scariest film”
But mostly it’s been really gratifying to hear from fans that our creepy
little horror tale scared the hell out of them. Several people have claimed
we caused them to soil their pants. Others say it almost caused them a
heart attack. I just want to go on record and say that the makers of
Banshee Chapter are not responsible for any health issues suffered during
the viewing of the film.
UKHS) One of the most enjoyable aspects I found was the chemistry between Anne and Thomas, I thought they really worked well together and it added to the films narrative in essentially providing two very well rounded and believable characters. I find horror movies can often slip into the predictable character profile of generic caricatures. You must be thrilled with how the two lead performances turned out?
BE) Yeah that’s true. There’s a lot of generic characters in bad horror. Whereas good horror is usually defined by its characters. In this case, we had two terrific actors, Ted Levine and Katia Winter, who were really able to bring their roles to life.
The toughest part is always maintaining that serious commitment to the role and taking risks with the characters. You want to push something in a way that feels new and explores something unexpected. Mixing a straight laced millennial girl with a deranged counter culture author from the baby boom generation has a lot of fun social subtext that you rarely get to see.
UKHS) The usage of found footage in the film is fairly minimal. Were you ever tempted to shoot the whole film from this perspective? How do you feel about found footage in general?
BE) I love a few found footage films. Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity are terrific examples of how well that technique can work if you really work to build that immersion. In our film we toyed with the idea of shooting the whole thing that way, but ultimately found it to be too restrictive on the narrative.
Doing found footage for all the archival events allowed us to subtly blend real footage into the recreated stuff. It added to the realism of the story. And then shooting in that kind of cinema verite flavor for modern events kept a kind of realism on the story that pulled together all the strange surreal elements of government conspiracy and Lovecraftian horrors.
UKHS) One of the most notable things with Banshee Chapter is its ability to create atmospheric scares. For example the scene where Anne discovers that somebody is already in the building she’s snooping around, and that they entered a number of minutes prior to her going in. Many other horror’s would implement a jolting shock right there – but you don’t. You let the tension gradually build until its palpable. Its quite a rare technique these days. What was your thinking behind it?
BE) A long dreadful period of silence is far more terrifying. It allows you plenty of time to consider and anticipate and imagine what’s coming. It forces your brain into the same anxiety that Anne is feeling at that moment. And for a brief moment you completely share her fear and forget that it’s only a movie.
The film is really mostly about what’s going on inside our brains, in many ways.
UKHS) I said in my review for UK Horror Scene that Banshee Chapter was the first seriously scary release of 2014. It really did unnerve me! What do you find scary? Indeed – what are your influences in the horror genre?
BE) Growing up I was always into Nightmare on Elm Street, Candyman, and Jacob’s Ladder. I loved the over-the-top gory H.P. Lovecraft movies of Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon. I think those probably introduced me to the writer himself. And even the Spielberg films like Jaws and Poltergeist had a big impact on what was possible with horror. It really could explore anything.
My influences in film tend to be all over the map. Not just in horror. I always loved Michael Mann’s run-and-gun shooting style in Heat and Collateral. David Fincher’s surreal camera and sound style blurring lines between truth and illusion always got me. And even a lot of documentary work, like Errol Morris’s Fog of War fascinated me.
BE) I’m really happy with it. I’m mostly thrilled that the story scares the hell out of so many audience members. On that side, it’s clearly mission accomplished. The film is a success for me on that, no question.
UKHS) It was your directorial debut – is directing something you’ll return to?
BE) Already working on the next one. It’s incredibly different than this one. Can’t wait to share it.
Many thanks to Blair Erickson and you can get hold of Banshee Chapter from the links below!