Wicked Wednesday: The Banishing (2013)

It has been a great long while since I’ve watched a short film that made me feel so full of glee. The Banishing from Icelandic director Erlingur Thoroddsen tells a simple, yet powerful story in it’s 11 minute run. When the film was recommended to me on Shudder, I was initially hesitant despite all the fantastic reviews. I’ve been misled before. But this little gem is so worthy of its praise.

Two sisters, Kara and Jessa, live with their mother in a large home on the edge of a woods. After the burial of their dog Norman, Kara pulls her little sister aside and tells her she knows that Jessa killed their dog. Immediately the film plunges into dark waters when Jessa admits to the killing, saying “the Bad Lady” made her do it and reveals the bruises on her arm.

Concerned about her little sister, Kara begins to do online research on possessions and imaginary friends. Kara obviously is hesitant to believe Jessa. Jess is after a much young girl. But when their mom goes out for the night, Kara decides to finally do something about the Bad Lady.

Using dolls from the house, the girls try a banishing spell. The summon the spirit that has tied itself to Jessa and it appears as a woman with white eyes in physical form. Kara smashes the head of the Bad Lady-doll and seemingly removes the spirit from their house.

When their mother returns home, all seems well. Jessa falls asleep under Kara’s watchful eye and their mom calls it a night. But when Kara wakes from her sleep, nothing is right at all.

To tell the ending would really spoil it all (and when it’s less than 15 minutes long – I’m not going to spoil this for you), but the ending is so satisfying and gross and twisting. Mixed with some delicious-looking cinematography, The Banishing is a short film that packs a memorable punch.

The casting of real-life sisters Danielle and Haley Kotch as Jessa and Kara (respectively) was a great decision. The girls are fantastic on the screen together. And much of The Banishing‘s terror is subtle, but I like a slow build – even in a movie as short as this. Many applause to Thoroddsen, this is one worth remembering.

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