An attempt at switching up the supernatural subgenre provides some scares but mostly suffers from an identity crisis.

Synopsis: Camille, a young woman who arrives at the Fairfield Academy following one of the student’s untimely and violent death.

Centred around a prestigious academy with a dark secret, Seance sees mysterious Camille (Suki Waterhouse) arrive in the aftermath of a tragic event. Almost immediately she is thrown on a collision course with the girls who were present during the death of a student and soon finds herself experiencing strange events. Forming an uneasy alliance with the group, they set about unearthing the secrets of the academy.

The cast are competent, although the Dawson-style casting may well take some out of it. This is one of the curiosities of Seance, in that it feels pitched at those (likely older people) who will pick up on the tradition of casting much older actors in teen roles and the well-worn horror tropes being toyed with here, but the rest of the action doesn’t feel adult enough to truly thrill that audience. The result is a parody that doesn’t have enough to skewer the tropes, meaning it often feels like a scrapbook of scares that have worked in other films. This isn’t to say they aren’t effective, however, and there are moments that work well, even if they aren’t all that inspiring.

The film is far more interesting when it allows itself off the leash a little more, although this too, devolves into absurdity at times as the threads need to converge. Refreshingly, some of the choreographed sequences feel unpolished, lending a sense of impact that is too often lost when altercations look too smooth. The film has a tendency to over-explain itself at times, causing the pace to lag.

Like the cast, the technical elements here are solid, but this does, in some ways lead to a lack of unique flair that would elevate the piece. Simon Barrett’s work as a writer in the likes of You’re Next relies upon the tweaking of audience expectations and that is also the case within Seance. Impressively, numerous scares escape a loud scare chord, instead relying on the genuine scare factor. An impressive dance set piece is a standout moment, displaying his knack for creating vibrantly staged scenes, so it is a shame that this stamp isn’t felt more throughout the runtime.

In the moments where it acts as a throwback to late 90s/early 00s video store horror, Seance succeeds – it just can’t sustain itself on that solid ground for the film’s duration.

3 out of 5 stars

3 out of 5 stars

Seance arrives on Shudder on September 29th.

Author: ScaredSheepless

Film and television fan, with a particular love for horror.

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