Monday, September 27, 2021

Seance (2021)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Seance (2021)
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Length:  93 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Dark Castle Entertainment, HanWay Films, Ingenious Media, GEM Entertainment, Just Entertainment, Shaw Organisation, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Originals Factory, RLJE Films, Shudder
Director: Simon Barrett
Writer: Simon Barrett
Actors: Suki Waterhouse, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Ella-Rae Smith, Djouliet Amara, Inanna Sarkis, Jade Michael, Madisen Beaty, Megan Best, Seamus Patterson, Stephanie Sy, Cliff Sumter
Blurb from Shudder:  Camille Meadows is the new girl at the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls. Soon after her arrival, six girls invite her to join them in a late-night ritual, calling forth the spirit of a dead former student who reportedly haunts their halls. But before morning, one of the girls is dead, leaving the others wondering what they may have awakened.

Cat’s Point of View:
The trailer for Séance gave me the impression that I could expect something of a blend of vibes from Mean Girls (2004) and Urban Legend (1998). It wasn’t misleading. Séance delivered exactly what I was expecting…and then some.
Was this the best horror mystery that I’ve ever seen? No. However, it was a far cry from the worst. I was certainly entertained, and isn’t that really the whole point? Chalk this one up as a success.
There were a few bits that could have used some improvement, but, honestly, I wasn’t watching to nitpick so I couldn’t tell you exactly what would need the tweaking. Séance was a solid offering for the genre. Admittedly, it was a bit predictable in places and fell into some well-used tropes – but it worked.

Even though I could see the twist coming from a mile away, it didn’t take away from the suspense as events played out. Once things got into gear, I could feel the dread climbing as I anticipated the next jump scare. I knew I was going to get startled over and over again – and that, in itself, was cause for some pulse-pounding moments.
I have to give some serious kudos to the setting and props crew, as well as cinematography, for putting this fictional boarding school together. IMDb’s Trivia section revealed that the school had to be cobbled together from several locations as well as constructed set-pieces. I believed every minute on screen that the entirety was shot within some massive old mansion somewhere.

While at first blush, Séance drew me in with the trailer, I got a little excited as it flashed across my screen that this film’s writer was the same as You're Next (2011) and The Guest (2014). The latter, especially. However, it also clicked that Séance’s writer/director was the very same Simon Barrett that was involved with a segment in ABC's of Death (2012). I twitch a little every time I’m reminded of those anthologies. However, his segment ‘Q for Quack’ wasn’t abysmal. It was more meta and comedy than horror.
I am a big believer in second chances. Also, Séance just so happens to be Barret’s full-length feature debut as a director. I was curious to see how his storytelling would come to life with his complete creative control, and for a whole movie’s time span rather than a mere short. I’d like to see how he grows in the future. Though, he does have another anthology sequel coming up in October with V/H/S/94. I digress…

Let’s talk cast. Suki Waterhouse (Assassination Nation, Burn, The Broken Hearts Gallery) is a badass, and I’m always down to watch a production she’s involved in. She was one of the primary draws to Séance for me, to be honest. I also enjoyed Ella-Rae Smith (The Commuter, The Witcher, Sweetheart) in Into the Badlands (2015-2019), so was excited to see her in this movie. Smith’s character in Séance showed off a whole other side of her range, considering how subdued this character was in comparison. Marina Stephenson Kerr (Channel Zero, The Return, A New Year's Resolution) was also a perfect example of what you would expect from an exclusive private boarding school headmistress.
I think that Séance has been judged a little harshly by the critics, and even some of the limited audiences that have seen it thus far. I’d have to say it’s perfect for the upcoming spooky season, and I imagine it will be a hit at sleepovers. If you have a Shudder subscription, Séance is worth scaring up on your list.
Séance will release on Shudder starting Wednesday, September 29th. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score –46%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –26% 
Metascore –45%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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