Time for another confession. Maybe I’m completely alone in this and maybe I’m not. When I was a child there was one place on the entire earth that truly frightened me. It was a place made specifically for children but the darkened setting absolutely terrified me. Any guesses as to what I’m talking about? CHUCK E. CHEESE. Way back in the day, at least at the location closest to me, ol’ Chuck and his gang practically lived in darkness. Maybe I suffered from Nyctophobia, fear of darkness, or may it was Automatonophobia, a fear of wax figures, humanoid robots or anything really made to look life like. Perhaps, it was a mixture of both. I eventually overgrew that fear and now I have a weird fascination with horror stories that take place within the walls of places like Chuck E. Cheese. Though, it is that exact fear that takes center stage at Stage 1 of Taft Studios when Patrick Stump’s score goes live.
The Banana Splits Movie centers around birthday boy, Harley (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong), who absolutely loves the Banana Splits television show. When his parents get him tickets to a live taping, he sets out on a quest to meet his favorite member, Snorky. In the midst of the quest, however, the internal wiring for the fan favorites goes awry and a murder spree begins. We’ve been in this wave of nostalgia for years and in some ways, this movie is going to drug up a lot of nostalgic memories from fans of the original show. For the most part, they pay homage to those fans throughout the duration of the first act. Several sequences focus on the hijinks of the Splits. The film brilliantly honors where it has been before moving forward with the vision of where it is going. That’s something that I found myself greatly admiring about the film. While the first half of the film feels heavy with the homage – it’s not alone.
Upon the arrival to the actual set of the movie, we are met with an array of characters. A stage dad (Keeno Lee Hector) & his daughter, Parker (Lia Sachs), as father attends the taping with the agenda to make his daughter a star. Then you have the pairing of Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) and Poppy (Celina Martin) – a modern day couple who could say are this film’s equivalent to Bronies. Streaming their entire adventure through the world of The Banana Splits for the entire world to see. Of course, you have Harley’s family along with the ride. Mom (Dani Kind), Step-Dad (Steve Lund), brother (Romeo Carere) and friend, Zoe (Maria Nash). Sounds like a lot of stories interwoven, right? You’re not wrong. As large as this cast is, the film feels criminally empty for the first half of this film. Aside from a couple of sequences, there is nothing to really make a viewer want to stay. Carere, Kind, and the puppets are the best reasons to stick around. Often times it can be boring to get through.
Carere and Kind not only feel the most fleshed out within the film but also the only ones that really seem to know how to deliver. The writing establishes fairly early that this is a movie that is outlandish and it knows it’s setting up a B-level horror movie. The film is very self-aware, smoothly sliding a level of hidden genius that won’t be obvious unless you’re looking for it. Aside from the Carere and Kind, the acting within Splits is some of the hardest acting to get through. The actors are flat, emotionless and as Kind says “cliché”. As hard as it is to watch though it adds a bit of charm to the film. Have you ever seen a movie and thought the acting in this is so terrible – but it’s a part of the charm? Yes? That’ Banana Splits.
Splits is absolutely a slow burn. Taking its’ time to incredibly unfold its’ story and vision. When the film is finally let off the hook, it is a thing of glory. For a horror movie, this film definitely gets creative with its’ death sequences. That’s one thing that I really found myself adoring about this little film. Is its’ sheer boldness and over the top delivery of the horror elements only solidify the fun nature of the film all the more. The slow burn of its origin crafts for a more satisfying and endearing finale.
Overall, The Banana Splits Movie, is a bloody fun time. Overflowing with terrible acting, uninteresting characters and a lack of development – the film is bound to turn people off within the first half of the film. However, arcs like Dani Kind and Romeo Carere make the finale of the film satisfying in nature and in character arcs. The slow burn nature of Splits allows for a more satisfying ending. The film is subtly brilliant in its’ self-awareness. Expect a lot of fun with this one, though only if you are fan of a horror genre.
RORSCHACH RATING SCALE
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