Review: Seance (2021)

  • Director:  Simon Barrett
  • Writer:  Simon Barrett
  • Stars: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith

Review

Simon Barrett has been the writer behind some of the modern day favourites (You’re Next, The Guest) and with Seance, he jumps into the role of director as well.

The film starts with a bunch of girls at boarding school performing a ‘bloody mary’ style ritual to call forth the Edelvine ghost, the local scary legend at the school – it’s revealed to be a prank yet one of the girls ends up dead. This creates a space for a new student, Camille (Waterhouse) to join Edelvine. When more girls start ending up killed or missing it’s up to those left to find out who and why. Is there a murderer? Is it a malevolent ghost?

Barrett nods at the classic school horrors (Suspiria, The Woods, The Possessed) and then threads the tightrope of tropes with bitches, cliques, a patrician headmistresses and plenty of mystery but whilst still adding his own flavour to these. Providing a number of scares along the way, the film sets you up for a great third act, that when it hits will leave you grinning. Karim Hussein’s cinematography has a dreamy quality to it and that adds to the film. The kills in the film are largely quick cut edits and you only see an aftermath, that is until toward the end of the film where you get some great practical effects work.

Waterhouse is naturally great, playing into Camille’s smarter and assured personality. All the girls at the school really hit their mark, especially Ella-Rae Smith who plays the sweet Helina. Helina’s and Camille’s friendship develops and feels so organic and really shows Barrett’s skill as writer that he manages to cultivate this relationship in a 90 odd minute horror film.

A small scale film that feels a lot bigger, Barrett creates an ominous atmosphere from the beginning that holds all the way through. A nice directorial debut and hopefully there is more to come.

In Cinemas, On Demand and Digital May 21, 2021.

Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78

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