Encapsulated Cinema: Wrecked, Shadow, and Scream of the Banshee

Two of these movies were released by IFC Films, the other was not. Care to guess which one? Here’s a hint: “Scream of the Banshee” stars Lance Henriksen and Lauren Holly. Want to change your answer? I thought so. The biggest surprise, of course, is that “Scream of the Banshee” was not the worst of the bunch. How’s that for a twist? I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. If you’re curious to see which of these horror-oriented peliculas danced violently upon my last nerve, direct your attention to the mini-reviews situated below. Chances are you won’t agree with me.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Wrecked (2011)
Director Michael Greenspan, screenwriter Christopher Dodd, and star Adrien Brody have crafted the ultimate endurance test: If you can listen to Brody whine his way through “Wrecked” without succumbing to restless leg syndrome and/or severe irritation, then you can probably withstand just about anything. Roughly a third of the film consists of nothing more than our hero crawling slowly through the forest while he blubbers endlessly about one thing or another. Seriously — that’s about all you’re gonna get out of this one. And while the ending is marginally satisfying, it can’t conceal the fact that Dodd and Greenspan seriously fumbled the pacing. In the process, they’ve effectively transformed what should have been a intense little survival flick into an excruciatingly dull and surprisingly boring cinematic experience. My advice: Watch “Buried”, instead.

Shadow (2009)
Federico Zampaglione has single-handedly reaffirmed my faith in the torture horror genre. Although I would necessarily toss the director’s impossibly creepy 2009 endeavor “Shadow” into the same category as, say, “Saw” or “Hostel”, it certainly shares a number of same characteristics. However, instead of simply going straight for the jugular, Zampaglione takes his sweet time getting to the good stuff. In fact, it will take you nearly an hour to realize that you’ve stumbled across one of the most sinister and unflinching torture flicks to come racing out of the gate in quite some time. It might look like a “young couple battles ill-tempered rednecks” on the surface, but there’s much more going on that its somewhat generic setup initially suggests. Federico Zampaglione is a talent to watch, and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more out of him in the near future.

Scream of the Banshee (2011)
You know what? I owe director Steven C. Miller a big fat apology. I ragged on his 2011 Saturday night SyFy flick “Scream of the Banshee” pretty hard before the film made its television debut. As fate would have it, I actually enjoyed the damned thing. Imagine that! The film — a shockingly competent tale about an ancient curse and the nasty little she-creature associated with it — delves deep into its bag of blood-soaked monster movie tricks, delivering some pretty grisly thrills and kills throughout. I was seriously impressed. That having been said, nobody on-board will win any awards for their razor-sharp performances, especially Lauren Holly. Given that each and every character is nothing more than a victim-in-waiting, I suppose this is a pretty hollow criticism. Like I said, Miller’s low-rent creature feature isn’t the prettiest whore in the cinematic brothel, but she’ll get the job done without any unwanted side effects. Sometimes that’s all you really need.