Thursday, June 9, 2022

#2,766. Seance (2021) - 2021 Horror Movies


From the opening scene, in which several students at a prestigious all-girls academy attempt to conjure the spirit of a former pupil, it’s obvious that writer / director Simon Barrett’s Séance isn’t going to be the year’s most original horror film; the sequence follows all the normal beats, right down to the accidental death of Kerrie (Megan Best), who may or may not have had a run-in with said specter.

So the question then becomes: if Séance isn’t bringing anything new to the table, will it at least deliver the “old reliable” well enough to keep us entertained?

Soon after Kerrie’s death, Edelvyne Academy welcomes another pupil, Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse), to its ranks. Camille strikes up a fast friendship with fellow student Helina (Ella_Rae Smith), but finds herself at odds with the “popular” girls - i.e. Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty), Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), and a few others – who staged the séance that resulted in Kerrie’s death.

Following a fight between Camille and Alice, Edelvyne’s Headmistress, Mrs. Landry (Marina Stephenson), punishes all of them with after-class detention, during which the curious girls hold another séance and discover that the fabled Edelvyne Ghost may, in fact, be real.

But when some of them start turning up dead, is the ghost truly to blame, or is the killer someone much closer?

Like its central story, the characters in Séance are of the routine variety, and while some of the performances are decent enough (especially Waterhouse, who manages to bring an air of mystery to Camille), there’s nothing - and nobody - here we haven’t seen before. Even the jump scares are standard issue, to the point that I saw most of them coming (ghostly images appearing when the lights flicker; characters hiding under bed covers only to find there’s someone lying next to them; etc).

Where Séance does manage to differentiate itself is in its “big reveal” at the end, not so much the reveal itself, but the fact that it comes earlier than usual; there’s a good 20 minutes left when we find out what’s really been going on. But instead of doing anything interesting with these extra 20 minutes, what transpires instead feels like padding on the filmmakers’ part, and I just wanted it to be over.

Forgettable, pedestrian, even dull, Séance was a disappointment.
Rating: 5 out of 10

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