Directed by: Christopher Smith
Written by: David Beton, Dean Lines, Ray Bogdanovich
Starring: Jessica Brown Findlay, John Heffernan, Anya McKenna-Bruce, Sean Harris, John Lynch,
Shudder Film Review by: Chris Olson
The Banishing review
A 1930s haunted house tale from writers David Beton, Dean Lines, and Ray Bogdanovich, in which a woman (Jessica Brown Findlay), her priest husband (John Heffernan) and their daughter (Anya McKenna-Bruce) become victims of a secret buried in the depths of their new home.
The mythical manor with a menace plot has been done to (literal) death and The Banishing, directed by Christopher Smile (Severance, Creep) brings nothing original to our screens. There are also horror tropes aplenty with the vague “motherhood-gone-wrong” thread for Jessica Brown Findlay’s character, as well as the church being patriarchal arseholes as always. Where the film mostly shines is in the performances.
Brown Findlay is utterly mesmerising in the role of Marianne, offering up a turn that lends a much-needed gravitas to the film. She navigates the sinister corridors of her new abode with an impressive gusto - even when the lukewarm jump scares are rolled out like yesterday’s cadavers. Heffernan is also excellent as the priest in turmoil, struggling with his faith, marriage, and celibacy in equal measure. Together, their chemistry works brilliantly and screams out for a more coherent script and formidable narrative.
The Banishing explores some admirable topics such as patriarchal interference, religious zeal, and the enduring battle between good and evil (the story takes place against the backdrop of Britain’s journey into WW2), but none are delivered particularly powerfully or memorably. There seemed to be an ambition to wrap multiple threads under the cloak of classic ghost story that just never comes together in any meaningful way.
Some of the technical visuals are enjoyable, such as a few mirror tricks and people hanging from the walls and the foreboding atmosphere of the manor is at the very least palpable. It’s a shame the plot trips itself up with so many unnecessary obstacles and distractions.
This is forgettable horror fodder destined to be banished to the bargain bins. A lacklustre that spectacle that cashes big with solid performances, so much so that it will have you aching for a better movie to put its leads into.
UK CINEMAS AND DIGITAL PLATFORMS MARCH 26TH