THE BANISHING (2020) first reviews of haunted house horror with a clip


‘Some houses were never meant to be a home’

THE BANISHING is a 2020 British horror feature film about a young reverend and his family who are threatened by a demonic spirit.

Directed by Christopher Smith (Triangle; Severance; Creep) from a screenplay co-written by David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich and Dean Lines, the Westend Films production stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Sean Harris (Possum; Prometheus; Deliver Us from Evil), John Lynch and John Heffernan. Produced by Maya Amsellem, Sharon Harel, Neil Jones and Jason Newmark.


A young reverend, his wife Marianne (Jessica Brown Findlay) and their daughter Adelaide (Anya McKenna-Bruce) move into a manor with a horrifying secret. When a demonic spirit possesses the little girl and threatens to tear the family apart, the reverend is forced to confront his beliefs…

Director Christopher Smith told Variety: “The way I pushed and directed the script is so that the horror is coming out from within the characters. Ghosts are individual for the people; you get haunted by something different to the next man, based on your life. I really wanted to factor that into it.” He added: “You go into the house, and the house unravels you.”

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“While the premise is not that original the director has a proven track record in the horror genre, ably demonstrated by a number of interesting ghostly moments, as well as occasional jump scare. All helped by a more than competent cast, but in the end undone by a confused script – with plenty of ideas but no real cohesion.” Cpt Pants

“Smith’s previous genre offerings have mostly stuck to gore gags and malice; The Banishing distances itself from both, focusing on being a more traditional period ghost story. It’s a direction that works and demonstrates Smith’s progression and maturity as a filmmaker. For much of the film, he sticks to the conventions of this type of tale, emulating the likes of The Turn of the Screw and The Woman in Black.” The Hollywood News

“There’s spook business with mirrors and monk figures, but it’s mostly a sombre, steady character drama in which everyone gets to crack up.  Heffernan adds to his recent run of quivering neurotic roles (he was Jonathan Harker in the BBC’s recent Dracula) as a cleric who always seems on the point of ripping off his dog-collar and primal screaming, while Harris (who was the titular Creep) is full-on sinister…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“The plot is nonsensical, the script (three writers!) erratic and the acting veers between wooden and hammy. Yet it’s directed with such painterly eye and genuinely unsettling visual flair that I was willing to overlook any and all of its fairly obvious weaknesses. Kudos to Chris Smith for polishing what’s basically a bewildering mess.” PowWow

“There does feel to be too many cooks in the kitchen, as the stories of personal shames, the Church being idle in these times, and occultist Harry Reed clash with one another, in spite of excellent performances (especially a magnetic Sean Harris.) I would say the first two acts are stronger than the third, reminding me of Insidious in what occurs.” James Rodrigues

“Eerie mirror images and visions of creepy monks heighten the tension and palpable level of fear, but it’s down to the acting that makes The Banishing such an engrossing watch. Finlay and McKenna-Bruce are simply stunning. It’s particularly rare for a young actor to accomplish so much to sell the scares […] The Banishing is one of the best haunted house films we’ve seen for a while.” Starburst

Cast and characters:

Jessica Brown Findlay … Marianne
Sean Harris … Harry Price
John Lynch … Malachi
John Heffernan … Linus
Jason Thorpe … Doctor Sutter
Cokey Falkow … Barman
Adam Hugill … Frank
Anya McKenna-Bruce … Adelaide
Seamus O’Neill … Old Man
James Swanton … Monk
Amy Trigg … Agnes
Nigel Travis … Burt
Danny Shayler … Monk
Sara Apostolaki … Woman in Rags
Jean St. Clair … Betsy