Séance (18) |Home Ents Review

Dir. Simon Barrett, US, 2021, 92 mins

Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith

Review by Colin Dibben

Appealingly deadzone, this horror thriller from the writer of You’re Next mixes schoolgirl nastiness, gore and supernatural trappings to nice effect.

Camille (Waterhouse) is the new girl at a female-only private school. Soon, she’s facing up to the bitchy cliqueyness of the other students, which descends into punches and slaps truthfully fast.

Some of the other girls seek to involve Camille in their ouija board sessions, in an attempt to contact a girl who died mysteriously after a séance.

Camille finds herself investigating a growing number of horrible deaths. Is there an evil supernatural presence at work? Or have pathological desires been unleashed amongst the students?

Séance is restrained but enjoyable: there’s a dazed, calm, deadzone feel to camera work, story progression and even the performances which I liked – as an antidote to the unwarranted hysteria of lots of horror movies.

In this way, the film formally reflects the pleasures of its own delivery mechanism: this is well-trodden ground but the frissons accumulate in a slow, nice-enough fashion and there are a couple of teasing plot twists.

The self-censorship you expect these days from a male director telling a story set in a girl’s school – just consider how the shower scene is filmed – also fits into the film’s flattened libidinal tone.

The film focuses on the violence that high school female students visit on one another, keeping gore and the supernatural low in the mix. Friendship is explored in a sensitive way for a slasher film.

Séance is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from 17 January.