Monday, April 12, 2021

The Banishing (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Banishing (2021)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Length:  97 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: WestEnd Films, Blue Lantern Entertainment International, Ecs Films, Entermode, Koch Media, Prima, Shudder, Suraya Filem, Suraya Film Productions, The Jokers
Director: Christopher Smith
Writers: David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich, Dean Lines
Actors: Jessica Brown Findlay, Sean Harris, John Lynch, John Heffernan, Adam Hugill, Jason Thorpe, Anya McKenna-Bruce, James Swanton, Cokey Falkow, Seamus O'Neill, Amy Trigg, Nigel Travis, Sara Apostolaki, Danny Shayler, Jean St. Clair, Matthew Clarke
Blurb from IMDb:  The Banishing tells the story of the most haunted house in England. In the 1930s, a young reverend, his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret.

Selina’s Point of View:
There’s a lot to like about the subtlety of The Banishing.
If you rely on the trailer alone, it looks like it’s going to be a run-of-the-mill haunted house flick. In fact, it looked like it would be so basic, that I almost didn’t even bother with the screener.
I absolutely believe that trailers shouldn’t spoil the films they represent… but they have to at least be cut in a way that sparks interest. In this case, the trailer for The Banishing was cut to make it seem like there was nothing unique about it – and that’s not true.
Although it was a relatively slow burn, The Banishing managed to subvert so many expectations for haunted house films, that it winds up being worth it.
I’ll admit that I do tend to forgive tropey films, as long as they’re done well, but I’m always hoping to see something that goes in a different direction. The Banishing never falls to complete tropes. There’s some mirror work, but it’s unexpected. There are some locked doors, but it’s not what anyone thinks.
The horror is subtle. There are some big, paranormal scenes, but they don’t fall into a ‘basic’ category.

Throughout the film, I kept thinking that the cinematography, story, and direction reminded me of classic horror flicks from the late 60s or early 70s. I don’t mean the setting or the costumes… but the overall feel of it. Like it could have been made around the same time as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) or The Exorcist (1973).
In films like that, the focus is almost completely on the characters, instead of the setting. We know that the house is haunted. We are made to understand the past. In the end, though, it’s all about who the main characters are, and what they offer to the story. A lot of haunting flicks just seem to progress regardless of what the characters do. The ending was going to be the ending, regardless of what took place. In that way, they tend to feel pointless. That’s not a pitfall that affects this one.
I particularly enjoyed the ending. It was understated.
There were a few issues.
Some of the transitions definitely felt a bit jarring and it seemed disjointed at times. There were also a couple of scenes that really didn’t belong. I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to condemn the film.
I mostly enjoyed it, though I don’t think it will be for everyone. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and pulse-pounding, this isn’t it. If you’re up for something with a touch more depth, something that gives off the feel of another era – you’ll like The Banishing.
The Banishing will be released through Shudder on April 15.

Cat’s Point of View:
When the credits rolled I felt like I had just wandered a maze rather than watched a movie. The Banishing meandered through so many twists and turns – many leading nowhere. I was worried for a little while that there wasn’t going to be a point at all. There was a rather nice depiction of a tango that had absolutely nothing to do with the overall story, aside from one of the characters involved with it. That’s how random some of this film seemed.
Surprisingly enough, there was an actual story buried in there. It had some holes and left its audience to do some reading between the lines, but it existed nonetheless.
From what I gather by comparing IMDb’s blurb for the film and the paragraph at the very end of the credits, this movie was based on an actual place in England. The disclaimer at the end of the film indicates that while based on actual events, a good deal was fictionalized for the purpose of this story. I’m moderately fascinated about the real place and what may have happened there. I might just go look it up at some point. It doesn’t ring any bells for me, however, so I’m unable to compare the depicted story with historical events actual or lore-based. I digress…

I felt moderately bad for the main characters, but beyond that, I really couldn’t bring myself to care much for what was going on. The movie simply wasn’t all that frightening. There were some jump-scares that got me, but I startle so easily that it’s not a good measure for a movie. I was really hoping for a good dread-filled horror movie. Unfortunately, since this particular tale was light on that aspect and heavier on drama it left me rather disappointed.
There’s always something positive about a film – even if you have to grasp at proverbial straws to find it. For this one, I’d have to say that the production did a great job at conveying the era in general for Britain between the World Wars. I couldn’t really fault most of the acting, either. In fact, the overall film seems to be growing on me, now that I've slept and had some time to process it a little more. I am a fan of subtlety and the ending ties things together better than expected. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to shake the disappointment. 
If you’re looking for a movie that’s going to make you side-eye dark hallways and sleep with the light on, this isn’t likely going to be the one for you. If you’re looking for a dramatic period piece that’s low on the thrill threshold with a sprinkle of paranormal and a few jump scares…well maybe The Banishing might be something you’d enjoy. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore –None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer:

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