The Banishing (2020)

The Banishing (2020) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: The Banishing
Year: 2020
Country: USA
Director: Christopher Smith
Main cast: Jessica Brown Findlay, Sean Harris, John Lynch, John Heffernan
Runtime: 97 minutes
Production company: WestEnd Films


The Banishing (2020) is the new movie by Christopher Smith, a British filmmaker notorious for his originality being able to always bring something new in all his movies. His debut feature film was Creep (2004), a delicious monster film dressed up as an urban survival where Franka Potente had to fight for her life to survive from a strange dehumanized creature in labyrinthic London subway stations. For his next film, he decided to explore the terrains of acid comedy without leaving aside a horror plot, and the result was the fun and entertaining Severance (2006). For his third film Triangle (2009) he added science-fiction and fantasy to his fresh horror style to create a story where time and reality have an important role, making it probably the most interesting title in his filmography. Black Death (2010) was his dark take of an even darker time, the Middle Ages, and it becomes one of the most essential violent history dramas based in that period holding hands with Paul Verhoeven’s Flesh+Blood (1985). And the most recent work to date was his most American-style movie to date, Detour (2016), an action road movie in the Hollywood manner. With a background like this, the existence of a new Christopher Smith movie was nothing but good news, and the medium-high expectations were more than sustained. Only this time we were wrong.

Despite working in different genres, Christopher Smith always seemed to have something special, his magic touch, something dynamic, with special energy, that made his films to outstand from other similar ones. With The Banishing (2020), that fresh energy is absent. The movie is too rigid and the story is not able to flow as naturally as one would desire. And when the best trademark of a filmmaker is deluded, the final result feels like drifting away.

The Banishing (2020) is a haunted house movie. “The most haunted house in England”, quotes the official plot. So a bunch of inexplicable things are meant to happen. But that is not an excuse for a hard-to-follow story. Although the origins of the evilness are attempted to be explained towards the end of the movie, things are never clear and the viewer can’t help but lose interest. The movie is very slow while the story is growing, making the description and introduction of the characters tedious to see.

But not everything is foul. In the visual aspects, the cinematography and atmosphere of the 1930s decade are superb. And the actors do an unflagging job trying to carry on in a bunch of situations where they all feel lost; not only the characters but also the performers seem not to know what the hell is going on. Admirable artistic work of the acting crew, except for Sean Harris, an actor always efficient and sometimes praised for his chameleonic staging in so dissimilar titles like 24 Hour Party People (2002), Prometheus (2012), or the Mission: Impossible film saga, but here looking like a histrionic parody of a schizophrenic self.

As a final view of the whole thing, The Banishing (2020) seems to be a commission project where Christopher Smith was never able to add his attractive and personal filmmaking technique. A boring haunted house horror movie far from the adrenaline and intensity he has us accustomed to in his previous films, and that leaving aside some fantasy and close-to science-fiction moments, and the way the Catholic Church is depicted as a cruel and ignorant institution with a very very dark past a few centuries ago, not much is to scratch out of this film.

if you are a fan of the haunted houses subgenre you might enjoy The Banishing (2020) since it is much better than the average movie in the style. But, sadly, for a general audience, it doesn’t seem to work.

RATE: 5/10


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