A college professor and her students discover an ornate box in the basement of their university. When they open the artifact, a bloodcurdling scream is unleashed. According to Irish lore, those who hear a banshee scream will die – which is what begins to happen as the creature comes for each of them.
Consider this an argument against good housekeeping: while poking around in their college's cluttered basement, an anthropologist (Lauren Holly) and her students unearth an extremely cranky head in a box, which proceeds to wreak some serious mythological havoc. Blood, eye-related violence, and a rather gnarly bit of business involving a lip piercing follow. As with many of the films produced for the SyFy Channel, this brisk horror film's ambitions are curtailed by a severe budgetary stumbling block, most notably during some medieval flashback scenes that appear to be shot in someone's backyard with balsa wood swords. On the positive side, while many films in this vein go for winking self-parody, director Steven Miller here plays things admirably straight, generating a decent sense of atmosphere and a few genuine scares. (The genial commentary track by Miller and composer Ryan Dodson detailing the numerous production problems makes what does show up on the screen seem fairly heroic.) While not exactly a case of a diamond in the rough, Scream of the Banshee
stands as a promising genre effort, boosted by some nicely blecchy effects (the previously mentioned severed head is a nasty piece of work, especially when it starts hollering), and a too-brief appearance by horror legend Lance Henriksen, who appears to be enjoying himself mightily as a Southern-accented monster specialist. --Andrew Wright