With shades of an old fashioned Giallo horror, Simon Barrett’s directing debut fails to excite or bore
When you sit down to watch a horror film called Séance, you expect it be about a bunch of teems doing something very silly at the beginning which results in ghouls, death and many scenes that go bump in the night. To be fair the film starts in this vein. Rich school girls decide to summon the spirit of a former student who is supposed to haunt the hallways of the very expensive boarding school.
Flickering lights and the usual cliché spookiness will have you rolling your eyes at the start, until its revealed that its just an elaborate hoax by the girls to scare and bully Kerrie (Megan Best) who runs away from the horror in front of her eyes. The girls laugh, Kerrie is frightened back in her dorm, until she eventually ends up dead and the rest of the gang begin to wonder if they have summoned up something evil, something that wants revenge.
Enter Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who takes the now vacant place of the deceased and is more of a match for the already established girls, holding her own with a fight straight away with queen bee Alice (Inanna Sarkis). Once we get the fistfights and the Mean Girls vibe out of the way, the girls do another séance (as if you would), this time trying to summon the spirt of Kerrie. only for more spookiness to occur and its when we get to the second death that the film shows it hand.
Is it a ghost? Or are we in the slasher land of “Guess the killer behind the mask?”, while we won’t spoil it for you, either plot would have struggled with the tiresome storyline.
Borrowing many nostalgic moments from the likes of Suspira, including a ballet sequence, watching Séance makes you feel like you are watching a cheap imitation of Dario Argento which is disappointing considering the track record of Barrett who helped deliver some horror hits with the likes of You’re Next and the sublime The Guest. The worst thing it does is that it fails to stand on its own bloodied two feet, its not blatant copying on show but if you are a massive horror fan then you’ll question why are you watching this when you could re-watch a much better similar one.
Its not all doom and gloom. Waterhouse’s Camille refusal to be a victim and fight back makes the film at least watchable and there are some nice gory shots to appease the bloodhounds out there with a climax that is entertaining enough to make the watch worthwhile, but if this film called Séance summons anything up is that its neither exciting or dull, its a watch that you’ll instantly forget about long after the credits roll.
Its unspectacular kills blend in well with its unremarkable plot, leaving nothing more than an uninspired taste and a feeling that you hoped for something better from the talent behind the camera.