Tuesday, June 8, 2021

"Seance" is a big splash for Simon Barrett


I don't know how many horror fans know the name Simon Barret, but they surely should. He has written some of the best modern horror movies in recent memory. He's written and directed segments in the anthology movies "V/H/S" and "V/H/S 2" and "The ABC's of Death." All fun films for all horror fans to see. He also wrote "You're Next," something you need to just track down and see without watching trailers or reading about it. You'll be glad you did. He also wrote "The Guest," a fun little action horror thriller. Last but kind of least, he wrote the 2016 "Blair Witch." He's had all sorts of stuff to his name by now. In 2021, he wrote and directed his first full feature film, "Seance."

"Seance" feels like the typical horror film you've probably seen before. A bunch of girls at a boarding school are having fun scaring each other during lights out. Alice (Innana Sarrkis) is the ruthless leader of this clique of girls and one of her pranks involves invoking a suicide of a past student. This rattles Kerrie, one of Alice's girlfriends. Kerrie, played by Megan Best, heads back to her room and after some weird stuff happening there she dies. It is also ruled a suicide.

New student Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse) takes Kerrie's place at the school. She is bullied by Alice and her horrible friends, which leads all of them to detention. Instead of doing what they are supposed to do, they try to contact Kerrie through a seance. Like these movies usually go, talking to ghosts once they've left the Earth tends to not go well. Alice's girlfriends eventually begin to die one at a time. Is there an angry ghost after them? Is Camille killing them? Is Alice killing them? What's going on here?!

Something to expect from a Simon Barrett movie is to expect the unexpected. "Seance" unravels like a typical slasher ghost thriller, but there are little tweaks to the genre that I found unexpected. Nothing is completely what it seems, and had "Seance" received a full blown theatrical release, it would have been a spooky good time at theater. It's not perfect, but it sure is fun. I love how Barrett inserts some fun into horror movies and rich characters that are full of fun too.

Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarrkis, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith, Stephanie Sy and Djouliet Amara make up the main cast of girls, and they all do a good job. They all bring something special to their roles while also making their characters feel human. They do really well here. The boarding school is just creepy enough to create some good tension, but isn't the typical old boarding house meant to look creepy because that's what we expect here. There is a difference to what Barrett creates.

I don't want to spill too many beans on this one. If you are a fan of this genre, check this one out. If you've seen any of the movies I listed in my first paragraph, then you'll probably know to expect. If you like horror that throws a wrench into what you think you're going to see, this should be a fun one for you.

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