Month: September 2020

Blogging Banshee Update

Hi All.

I’ve been giving this website and my film reviews a lot of thought lately. While it’s been a difficult decision, I’ve decided to pause my Blogging Banshee film reviews. This pause will last through the rest of 2020, possibly longer, but I still still be doing a “Best of 2020” list at the end of the year.

While this means I will not be writing film reviews in the immediate future, you can still keep track of what I’m watching and see mini reviews/ratings through my Letterboxd. You can also keep track of what I’m working on through both Instagram and Twitter.

The time I would normally take to write these reviews will now be dedicated to more editorial work for other outlets as well as working on my original fiction writing and screenplays.

Thank you all for the ongoing support, and hopefully I will have some more updates on my projects for you in the near future.

xoxo The Blogging Banshee

Fantasia Review: For the Sake of Vicious

A tortured father kidnaps a shady businessman and brings him to a nurse’s house. After the businessman calls for help, the trio become entangled in a violent power grab. They will have to band together to survive the night or die trying.

Directors Gabriel Carrer (The Demolisher, In the House of Flies) and Reese Eveneshen (Defective, Dead Genesis) bring their latest film to Fantasia International Film Festival. With a story by Carrer and screenplay by Eveneshen, For the Sake of Vicious wastes no time throwing the audience into suspense. We watch as the tortured father kidnaps the shady businessman and takes him to the nurse’s house in order to keep him alive. From there the filmmakers gradually reveal how these three very different people ended up in the house together and the way they’re all connected. It’s when the businessman is able to call for help that things really take a dire turn. It quickly throws the characters into chaos and blood. The ensuing fight for survival is action-packed, suspenseful, and will keep the audience on the edge of their seats. It’s a generally straightforward plot with great fight sequences to delight the gore hounds. While the action makes for a lot of excitement, the film still stays emotionally grounded with the relationships between the three main characters.

All three leads in For the Sake of Vicious deliver emotionally-driven performances to offset the physical brutality. Lora Burke (Lifechanger, Poor Agnes) plays Romina, the nurse whose home is invaded. As a nurse, it’s obvious Romina has a strong impulse to help others. Burke does a great job of conveying the conflict Romina feels because she can’t decide which of these two men she should really be helping. Nick Smyth (The Covenant, The Flying Man) plays Chris, the tortured father who brings the chaos into Romina’s home. There are two aspects of Smyth’s performance that truly blow me away. First, Chris’s determination to right a wrong comes through so clearly and powerfully. Second, Smyth has a great physicality to his performance. Between showing his emotions with facial expressions and body language to his physical prowess during the fight scenes, Smyth truly gives it his all. Colin Paradine (Defective, Kingdom Come) plays the shady businessman, Alan. Throughout the course of the film, Paradine keeps the audience guessing as to whether or not Alan is the villain of the story or not. Paradine does a perfect balance and cool and collected with a bit of a sinister edge that makes his intentions unclear. Together, this trio helps ground the film with their stellar performances.

Delightful practical effects, production design, and music add to the appeal of this film. Of all the films at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, For the Sake of Vicious stands out as one of the more gore-filled. In the beginning, there are only minor wounds, but when all hell breaks loose the film becomes a bloody, violent nightmare. The practical effects are shockingly well done and had me gasping and maniacally laughing in turn. From the moment the three main characters come together to the shocking end, the film takes place in Romina’s small rental. The small home is a nice, quiet place for the three characters to work through their issues. Yet when the cavalry arrives, it becomes a claustrophobic nightmare as it fills with murderous bad guys. The very well-choreographed fight scenes become even more exciting with the Carpenter-esque musical score by Carrer and Foxgrndr (If a Tree Falls). Each individual artistic element weaves together to make this film even more exciting.

For the Sake of Vicious is a delightfully violent thrill ride from start to finish. Carrer and Eveneshen make a fantastic team and create a simple yet effective story. To make the film even more suspenseful and shocking, the filmmakers utilized a claustrophobic set, an electrifying musical score, fantastic fight choreography, and jaw-dropping practical effects. Throughout all the thrills and gore, the performances from the three leads manage to keep the film rooted at an emotional core, making the film more than just an action thriller. For the Sake of Vicious ends up being a shot of adrenaline to the system.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

Fantasia Review: Anything For Jackson

Audrey and Henry Walsh lost their young grandson. In a desperate attempt to bring him back, the couple decides to kidnap a pregnant woman and perform a ritual to put their grandson’s spirit in her baby. When things don’t go as planned, it places every one of them in mortal peril.

Fantasia International Film Festival brings audiences a disturbing new tale of terror with Anything for Jackson. The film is directed by Justin G. Dyck (Super Detention, Christmas in Paris) and written by Keith Cooper (Super Detention, A Christmas Village). Most of these filmmakers’ filmography is primarily made-for-TV Christmas films, which is very different from Anything for Jackson. No time is wasted in setting up the suspense as we witness the Walshes kidnapping a pregnant woman and imprisoning her in their home. From there we slowly learn the driving force behind their actions and how it is all a desperate attempt to bring their grandson, Jackson, back from the dead. What I love about the way the plot structure is how the audience gets breadcrumbs of information and each of these breadcrumbs brings some new surprising revelation. At times these surprises can be a bit confusing because certain images aren’t fully explained. Yet it helps to bring fear to the film. It adds some depth to the story and the characters while also gradually building the terror.

Anything for Jackson also takes a deep look into the things we do for the ones we love and the consequences of those actions. Everyone in the film has a different motivation driving them throughout the story. Some of these motivations are so strong that they are willing to make any sacrifice necessary. Yet there are also repercussions, especially when dealing with dark magic. The filmmakers take a look at what happens when you don’t fully understand those repercussions, which ends up being the catalyst for much of the horror that ensues.

There are some familiar faces in Anything for Jackson and multiple great performances. Sheila McCarthy (The Day After Tomorrow, Die Hard 2) plays Audrey Welsh. Audrey is the driving force behind much of the film. McCarthy makes it quite clear Audrey is the most distraught over losing her grandson, but she also is doing her best to make sure no one gets hurt in the process. Julian Richings (Supernatural, Urban Legend) plays Henry Walsh. Henry is the more practical of the couple, which makes sense since he’s a doctor. What drives Henry is kept a bit more of a mystery. Richings plays the character in a way that is very cool and collected, yet tender and loving with his wife. With both of the Walshes, McCarthy and Richings portray the characters in a way that conveys their determination, but also makes it apparent they are not necessary evil people. Konstantina Mantelos (A Christmas Crush, Miss Misery) plays Becker, the kidnapped pregnant woman. Throughout the film the audience sees Becker go through a gambit of different emotions, and Mantelos plays the character incredibly well. These three performances create an interesting dynamic throughout the film.

This is quite the visually stimulating film. Anything for Jackson takes place in a large, uniquely designed house. It allows for strange angles and opportunities for things to lurk around every corner while also conveying the Walshes wealth. Then there are the scares. When things don’t go quite as planned, many strange entities appear throughout the house. What’s even worse is that something seems to be able to control people who are on the Walsh’s property. It creates plenty of opportunities for disturbing and haunting practical effects. There is everything from ghostly figures, to gory mutilations, to sinister otherworldly beings. All of this is created with wonderful practical effects and results in some memorable imagery.

Anything for Jackson is a terrifying story of loss, the lengths we go to for love, and the dire consequences to our actions. Dyck and Cooper make a daring and successful dive into horror with this film. It hits on the emotional notes as much as it does the frights. The film boasts strong performances, especially from McCarthy and Richings as the Walshes. Throughout the film there are many twists and turns intermixed with horrifying practical effects that are sure to disturb audiences. This film makes me hope to see the filmmakers continue in the horror genre.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10