FEATURE FILM REVIEW
A YouTube-famous paranormal debunker attends an infamous medium's seance in an effort to expose his charlatan ways.
THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY to be made by scamming people into believing that with someone else's help, they can talk to their loved ones. Mediums, tarot readers, and the ever-popular ghostbusters of the ages all want a piece of the pie. Yours. But could it all be true? Is there really something after death, and if so, are there really those who can communicate with them? Andy doesn't seem to think so, and in The Seance, her life's goal is to debunk those who claim they can achieve this feat. Especially those who charge handsome fees to do it.
This is not an unfamiliar setup for a book or film. From 1408 to The Reaping and everything in between, the familiar trope of the non-believers thrust into a situation they can't explain has always been an interesting one. The non-believer setup adds credibility and the "everyman" factor to a potentially crazy supernatural tale. R.J. Buckley's The Seance is no different and happens to be pleasantly well done. The big twist here is that it's the ghosts themselves who seem to want to keep from being exposed, and for a good reason. Would you want someone messing with your few lines of open communication? Probably not.
THE HOUSE ITSELF IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUCCESS RATE OF THE SEANCES.
Starting where most movies end, this film begins with its only seance as an introduction piece. Nate is the man with the gift and does his thing as skeptic Andy pays close attention. When it's all done, she wastes no time looking for the "tricks" and grows increasingly agitated when none can be found. Nate claims he's the real deal but not in the way you may think. In actuality, it's the house itself that is responsible for the success rate of his seances. He's merely a botanist who has more or less been forced out of his profession.
As things progress, The Seance does a few dives into the histories of its two leading characters as it explains why Nate does what he does and Andy's fascination with the supernatural. It all adds some providence to the movie that works most of the time but can, at times, feel like it was included to increase the film's length. By the ending, however, everything seems tightly wrapped up, and life goes on. In hindsight, I would have liked to see a deeper relationship created between Andy and Nate afterward but had to keep in mind that The Seance may have multiple different elements, but a love story wasn't one of them.
CHRISTOPHER JAMES CRAMER MAKES SURE THAT THE TRAIN STAYS ON TRACK AS THE SEANCE CROSSES THE FINISH LINE.
Needless to say, this is the kind of movie that requires a good chunk of talent to get right, and in this regard, The Seance is not lacking. Michael Minto and Miranda Skerman as the leads are fantastic. Helping them out in no small way is a nicely written script and a film that looks anything but micro-budget. Things in the final fifteen minutes get a little bumpy but again, in hindsight, only just. Christopher James Cramer, who directs, makes sure the train stays on track as The Seance crosses the finish line with flying colors.
THOSE WHO ENJOY A GOOD HORROR-COMEDY HYBRID WILL GET THE BIGGEST BANG FOR THEIR BUCK.
Those who enjoy a good paranormal/supernatural horror-comedy hybrid will be the ones to get the biggest bang for their buck. But even if you're just a casual observer, The Seance has a lot to offer. It's never overly scary or dumbly comedic and tends to lean on the side of caution when approaching the subject matter. Well, until the ending, that is... but by then, you're already fully invested. And even if you weren't by the time the film kicks into the highly ghostly territory of the modern horror film, it never crosses the line to intolerable. And if you enjoy a great horror movie, then there's nothing to complain about anyhow. What more can be said? The Seance works because it's the textbook definition of a nicely directed film that has some really talented actors. Mission accomplished.
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