In "Banshee," an original movie airing tonight on the Oxygen network, Taryn Manning ("Hustle & Flow") plays a pixieish blond with a Goth's scowl and an even meaner bite. She's like Buffy the Vampire Slayer if Buffy'd had a rough exterior and turned to stealing cars instead of slaying the un-dead.
Sage (Manning) looks un-dead, and yet cute, like the lead singer of a hard-core girl band. Early on, when she told a fellow car thief that "betting for sex is desperate and cliche," and not long after that stole a car, and not longer after that declared, "If a guy cooks for you first ... then you're immune to hog status," I began hoping "Banshee" was a television series, not a low-budget movie.
Either way, Manning is what distinguishes this occasionally fun, tacky action thriller; she's a kindred spirit of a new kind of character on TV: The Women Who Frighten Me. So far there are Trixie and Calamity Jane of "Deadwood," and now, however briefly, there's Sage, a.k.a. "Banshee," which is her nom de guerre from a hard-knocks life of abuse and petty crime.
She's like the character from the original French movie "Nikita" starring Anne Parillaud. In "Banshee," shot mostly at night and set in some no-name downtown, Sage runs afoul of a serial killer-techno DJ when she hot wires his cherry red 1966 Dodge Charger.