For those in the UK watching statist ideologies sweep across 1930s Europe, it was definitely a time that tried the nation’s soul. That was especially true for the family living in what has been called the most haunted piece of real estate in England. For this film, Borley Rectory has been changed to Morley Rectory, but the implications are the same for the Forsters. Their fragile family bonds will be gravely challenged in Christopher Smith’s The Banishing, which premieres this Thursday on Shudder.
Bishop Malachi did not tell Rev. Linus Forster about his predecessor’s grisly fate, but we see it plain as day in the prologue. His wife Marianne has a difficult backstory that included temporarily losing custody of her daughter Adelaide (from a long-absent father), but they are now all awkwardly together. Unfortunately, Rev. Forster is constantly passing judgement on his family, creating resentments for the angry spirits in Morley to explore. The politically hawkish and borderline pagan occultist Harry Reed warns them both separately, but only she pays him any mind.
The trio of credited screenwriters (David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich, and Dean Lines) punch up the traditional Borley lore, turning the original Benedictine occupants into an apocalyptic monastic death cult. It is pretty standard stuff, but it allows Smith a chance to exploit creepy hooded figures for easy scares.