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‘Séance’ review: Standard mystery horror does just enough

Classic mystery horror.

Séance uses a classic horror premise to jump start its story. Camille (Suki Waterhouse) has just been accepted to the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls. After running afoul of the school’s mean girls, the group end up in detention. Their attempt to contact the dead leads to predictably deadly results. But is it the result of something supernatural or is it much worse?

Writer-director Simon Barrett sticks to the formula for most of the film. As the bodies pile up, so do the jump scares. Séance appears to be paying homage to mystery horror stories of years past while telling its tale. The pacing is unlike other films of the genre. Séance does not provide much in the way of clues or even offer up a red herring. The resolution is as much of a “who else was left” situation than a satisfying conclusion.

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This all changes during the finale. After what can best be described as a pedestrian film, things kick into overdrive in the final moments. There is a great fight scene that is filled with hard hits and laughs. Everything concludes with a pair of grisly scenes. It is almost as if Séance is trying to make up for the earlier more patient parts of the plot.

While the finale does add some visual flair to things, it also is something of a disservice. While the earlier portions move at a more methodical speed, they are not bad. The mystery can come off as simple at times, but it is engaging. The characters also help in advancing the plot. They are not deep, but they work well within the confines of the story. Which is the perfect way to describe Séance as a whole.

Séance is in theaters and on digital and on demand May 21

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