Film Review – The Banishing (2021)

As fascism looms in 1930’s England, we enter an old mansion with ghastly history on an isolated estate as hauntings manifest around new occupants; a jittery priest (John Heffernan), his recently ‘saved’ wife Marianne (Jessica Brown-Findlay), her daughter Adelaide (Anya McKenna Bruce) alongside a hearing-impaired maid (Jean St. Clair).

All four are about to be consumed by visions and paranormal anarchy including generic whispers in the night, knocking within walls, a mirror with delayed reflection and creepy dolls.

Whenever white sheets are draped over furniture entering a large house, impending doom often awaits.

Some of the most annoying characters in a horror film I have experienced for quite a while, especially hard drinking flame haired conspiracy theorist who ends up an accomplice to rid the demons.

So-called head of the family, Father Linus, becomes a lame obstacle embarking into denial, or madness, which is it, who knows?

His deteriorating relationship with new wife and child is conveyed by some ordinary acting in what should be highly dramatic moments.

One of the lesser Shudder exclusives of late, although definitely not due to excellent Jessica Brown-Findlay, holding it all together in mysterious dual-roles.

Jess is the heartbeat, more vibrantly realistic than anyone else.

Almost redeeming the entire film is a scene with multiple Marianne’s elevated along a hallway struggling to reach her possessed daughter, an absolutely gripping visual.

Select period attire is terrific costume design by Lance Milligan, also enhancing her character progression.

Potentially interesting side-stories are never fully explored including the great John Lynch (Angel Baby, Sliding Doors) as a highly ranked man of the cloth with links to the Nazis and a psychiatric history of Marianne, only touched on.

Covering many haunted house allegories still well worth viewing.

★★ 1/2

Horror, Thriller | UK, 2020 | 15 | Shudder Original | 16th April 2021 | Vertigo Releasing | Dir. Christopher Smith |Jessica Brown Findlay, Sean Harris, John Heffernan, Anya McKenna-Bruce, John Lynch, Jean St.Clair

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