Entertainment Earth


Seance (Review)

Writer/ Director: Simon Barrett 
Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Madison Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith, Stephanie Sy, Djouliet Amara
Year: 2021
Min: 92

At a prestigious all girl academy, a clique of girls, led by the popular and mean Alice (Inanna Sarkis), attempt a séance to contact the spirt of a girl named Edelvine. She was a former student who, according to urban legend, committed suicide. But, the séance, itself, ends up being a prank that they are playing on their classmate Kerrie (Megan Best). She subsequently runs away, and ends up falling out the window of her dorm room and dying. A new student named Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse) takes Kerrie's place and moves into her dorm, where she eventually notices ghostly shit happening. She also quickly befriends Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), who had shown her the dorm room, upon her arrival. Camille also runs afoul of the same group of girls, from the beginning, and gets into a fist fight with them. This leads to all of these girls getting detention, together. There, they attempt yet another séance, this time to contact Kerrie. And, soon, there after, one by one, the girls get taken out by an unseen force.  

Seance is a 2021 horror movie that marks the directorial debut of You're Next and The Guest screenwriter Simon Barrett, who also wrote this script. It mixes the ghost/ haunted house movie with some slasher elements, as well as a heavy dose of mystery. This mix of subgenres ends up working well and makes for an overall enjoyable, viewing experience.

At first, the movie doesn't feel very original. It follows many of the tropes and clichés of the ghost/ supernatural horror flick. Fuck, it even has some really annoying jump scares that, for the most part, don't work. Although, to be fair, a few of them do hit their mark. Still, the movie is certainly never boring and keeps one entertained on one level or another. 

It also succeeding in keeping me interested enough to keep watching and not wanting to stop the movie. Yes, I realize it is my duty to watch the whole flick, as I am reviewing it. But, I actually cared and wanted to, as opposed to having forcing myself. Through his directing and script, Barrett manages to keep the mystery interesting, even when it might not feel wholly original. Watching this you might think that it is the same old shit that you've seen a million times before. However, you should still do yourself a favor and keeping viewing it. You see, the flick has one hell of a payoff, as it leads to a fun and thrilling climax. At this point, the film suddenly becomes quite sanguinary, which is something I wasn't expecting at all. 

Barrett was, I feel, knowingly playing with these tropes and expected plot developments. It achieves in making you think it is yet another crappy and generic haunted house (err, school) flick, only to come out swinging and end up being a shit load of fun. Seeds are planted sporadically in the movie, hinting at it being a little more than the expected, including an exciting and nicely shot kill scene involving dancing and throat slitting. 

The acting from the cast is really strong. It's one of the aspects that really helps to elevate the movie's quality. Especially good in her role is beautiful, British actress Suki (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) Waterhouse, as lead protagonist Camille. Her character is very likable and easy to get behind, which is a great thing since most of the other girls are far too bitchy and mean to be likable. That being said, the actresses portraying them do a very good job with their characters. The only other truly likable character is that of Helina, the girl she befriends. Well played by the lovely Ella-Ray Smith, she is bought to life in a believable and charming manner. The young ladies in this flick are all beautiful. And, yes, I realize that isn't important to the flick's quality, but it most certainly doesn't hurt it.

Another plus is the film's solid score, handled by Tobias Vethake (here credited as Sicker Man). It further contributes to raising the bar on this movie. For example, the opening scene feels pretty generic but is elevated by the somber score. There are some beautiful tracks contained within the movie, an even some John Carpenter influence, in at least one track, further adding to my enjoyment of it. 

Seance looks to be a been there, done that flick that one should discard. But, if you stick with it, you will enjoy it. The end result is actually an entertaining, good time, that you'll want to check out. The climax is exciting and rousing, as well as featuring a shocking uptick in the gore content. Also, strong is the acting, especially from leading lady Waterhouse. Add, in a great score, and you have a movie that far surpassed my expectations. It's a very pleasant surprise that you will be able to enjoy for yourself, when it starts streaming on Shudder on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.