The Banana Splits Movie Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Warner Bros. UK
Directed by Danishka Esterhazy
Written by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas
2019, 89 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest European premiere on 26th August 2019
Dani Kind as Beth
Finlay Wojtak-Hissong as Harley
Romeo Carere as Austin
Steve Lund as Mich
What if The Banana Splits… but Five Nights at Freddy’s? As a birthday treat for their youngest son, a family attend a live taping of the Banana Splits TV show. However, thanks to a glitch in their programming, the Bananas’ personalities have… split, turning them into murderous automatons. Yes, the Banana Splits are a gang of robots. Yes, their television show is still on the air. And yes, we’re expected to believe that young children these days actually care about The Banana Splits.
The Banana Splits Movie deserves kudos for scoring the actual Banana Splits for its Banana Splits movie, making the premise more interesting than if they had just populated it with generic furries. Bingo, Fleegle, Snorky and Drooper – the gang’s all here! It still feels faintly like a Five Nights at Freddy’s rip-off with a different IP, but Drooper and co. lend some extra flavour to the proceedings. Banana flavour, of course.
Somehow though, the murderous Banana Splits are far less imposing and scary than their original television counterparts. Perhaps it’s due to the washed-out, grainy colours and cheap set design, but the gang always look like horror villains, so there’s very little disconnect between their appearance and their actions. To many, The Banana Splits Movie will prove less scary than an average episode of the actual Banana Splits TV show.
This extends through to the horror sequences, which are shot and filmed in such an uninspiring fashion as to bore most of the time. In spite of its relatively high-profile villains, the budget is noticeably low, and the film is one of the ugliest I’ve seen in a long time. The budget and ability doesn’t match its imagination or ambition, and what should have been big and colourful and silly becomes a sloppy, generic mess. Neither funny nor scary, it fails both as a comedy-horror and as an ironic scare ‘em up with disturbing great cartoon characters.
The film isn’t helped, either, by its preponderance of (bad) child actors, none of whom are adequately scared or terrorized by the Banana Splits. No-one is advocating for child murder (Krampus did just fine balancing real scares with a mostly young cast) but it only adds to the feeling that The Banana Splits Movie is playing with its training wheels on, too tame to make the most of its premise or villains. At the same time, director Danishka Esterhazy isn’t stingy with the gore either, so it’s not as though the film was ever going to be family friendly. Pick an audience, and play to it.
Still, this version of The Simpsons: Itchy & Scratchy Land meets Five Nights at Freddy’s has its merits. The blood flows freely and liberally, the kill sequences are inventive and infectiously fun. Whatever else one was hoping for from a genre film with the Banana Splits, it does at least deliver on an all-singing, all-dancing horror sequence set to The Tra La La Song. Now, who’s next – The Teletubbies?
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