Tra-La-La. Tra-La-La-Kill! That’s right. A blast from the past goes very dark and horrific in this shockingly insane film about children’s heroes turned vicious murderers.
The Banana Splits, made up of Bingo, Fleegle, Snorky, and Drooper; have been around for over fifty years, warming up to the hearts of a million kids past and present. Young Harley is a huge fan of the group and for his birthday, he’s been given a ticket to go see a live taping of his heroes. Excited, Harley invites friend Zoe to the taping in which he goes with his parents, who haven’t been doing too well together, and brother Austin, who actually cares about his little brother.
At their arrival, the show’s producer Rebecca has been given the shocking news that the show is being cancelled as the Splits have been deemed too old. Promoted VP Andy has decided to come up with new edgier programming despite the Splits’ popularity. Despite the cancellation, the show must go on. When select audience members get to meet the Splits, Austin convinces assistant Paige to let Harley see them for his birthday. However, this is one visit Harley will soon find himself regretting as faulty programming turns the Splits into brutal murderers backstage, going after those responsible for the cancellation and the fans who have arrived backstage after the show. Will Harley and company be able to survive the show?
At learning that a movie adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera series The Banana Splits was going to take a dark route, it was met with skepticism. Then the trailer was released and lo and behold, it looked to be an instant horror cult classic and boy, did the film become just that. What’s very interesting about this one is that instead of the vicious killers being humans inside the Banana Splits’ costumes, things go into a rebooted Child’s Play motif, where the Splits are actually robots that have been faultily programmed to kill upon learning of the show’s cancellation and there’s no holding back.
Director Danishka Esterhazy and writers Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas go all out with the story of a young boy’s birthday wish gone horribly wrong. There’s more to the story as we learn that Harley’s mother Beth and father Mitch, played respectively by Dani Kind and Steve Lund, have a crumbling marriage. This is due to the fact that Mitch has been a very bad boy, both by being unfaithful to Beth as well as always giving oldest son Austin, played by Roman Carere. Austin goes a bit against type in terms of bringing a teenage angsty character in that he unleashes more rage on his scumbag father but cares deeply about his mother and little brother. What is even more the unexpected is that one would expect young Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, as protagonist Harley, to let out a few screams, but this kid must be the calmest kid hero in a horror film. Perhaps it’s because of the characters’ problems at home.
The death scenes are brilliant and not so much unexpected, but goes full speed with the gore. One inventive death involves a victim having a gigantic lollipop shoved down his throat to the point it protrudes out from his neck like Liz Purr’s death scene in Jawbreaker. One victim becomes the victim of the good ol’ saw in half magic trick that gets as real as it gets. And one victim finds themselves the victim of a good ol’, what Fleegle calls “the banana split”, which translated into getting disgustingly quartered. The filmmakers do not hold back on the gore and for something of this nature, it is truly shocking considering that it’s the Banana Splits doing it!
The Banana Splits Movie lives up to its promise of going dark…and then some. They’re going to ‘split’ all right…split you in two!
WFG RATING: A-
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Blue Ribbon Content production. Director: Danishka Esterhazy. Producer: Adam Friedlander. Writers: Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas; based on the Hanna-Barbera characters. Cinematography: Trevor Calverly. Editing: Michael P. Mason.
Cast: Dani Kind, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Steve Lund, Roman Carere, Maria Nash, Sara Canning, Naledi Majola, Richard White, Daniel Fox, Celina Martin, Keeno Lee Hector, Lia Sachs, Lionel Newton, Kiroshan Naidoo, voices of Eric Bauza.