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Simon Barrett
Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith
Simon Barrett

After Camille arrives at an exclusive boarding school, she gets involved in a supernatural ritual that comes with unexpected consequences.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 8/3/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Simon Barrett
• 6 Deleted Scenes
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Outtakes
• Decapitation Pre-Viz
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


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Séance [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 21, 2021)

A movie about high school girls who engage in supernatural activities seems likely to trigger memories of 1996’s The Craft. However, 2021’s Séance goes down a somewhat different path than that witchcraft-related flick.

Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse) arrives at the exclusive Edelvine Academy for Girls as the new student on campus. While she gets to know her classmates, some of them ask her to join a peculiar ritual.

A dead former student allegedly haunts the school’s halls, and the girls conduct a séance to try to contact her. Done essentially as a joke, this activity comes with consequences the teens don’t expect.

Though we do, as a horror movie without any actual attempts at horror wouldn’t seem like a good idea. The question becomes whether or not ghosts act here or we find more reality-bound explanations.

Which is fine – or which would be fine if Séance found something clever or creative to do with the material. Instead, it basically gives us a traditional “stalker killer” ala Halloween or Friday the 13th.

Sure, Séance factors in the mystery of the potential ghost, and it tosses other curveballs our way as well. Unfortunately, these tend to feel contrived and they do too little to steer away from the “atalker killer” conceit I mentioned.

This leads us to little tension, which seems like a surprise, as the tease about the existence of the ghost comes with possibilities. Séance simply doesn’t explore these well.

Instead, it ladles out slasher-style kills with meatheaded exposition and bland characters. The plot twists tend to become visible from a mile away, and little in terms of terror or thrills results.

Mainly, Séance just seems dull. It never builds a head of steam, and it fails to create the tension it could use to carry us through its slow narrative movement.

Séance tends to feel like an outline for a movie more than a fully realized project. It shows the bones of a quality film but it can’t achieve its goals.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Séance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally positive presentation but not a great one.

Sharpness became the weakest factor. While the image usually looked concise, a few perplexing instances of softness materialized, and those caused distractions.

No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors went primarily with an amber/orange feel, though we got some teal-influenced blues as well. These didn’t shine but they seemed more than adequate.

Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows offered reasonable clarity. Outside of the sporadic softness, this became a good image.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed fine as well. Speech usually appeared fairly natural, and they lacked edginess or issues with intelligibility.

Music felt bright and lively, while effects came across as accurate. The mix came with mostly good range and depth.

The soundscape opened up matters in a moderate manner, but it didn’t really impress. The five channels broadened the material in a fairly engaging manner, though not one that appeared especially active.

Still, the track used the speakers in a mostly positive way, as it accentuated the movie’s scares and creepy notes. Overall, this was a satisfactory mix.

The disc comes with some extras, and we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Simon Barrett. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots and development, story/characters, cast and performances, influences, sets and locations, music, effects, and related topics.

Barrett claims he got bad reviews for an earlier commentary, but if so, he didn’t hear complaints from me. I wrote up the Blu-ray for 2017’s The Guest and I thought he and director Adam Wingard offered a solid chat.

I feel the same about Barrett’s solo track for Séance, as he creates a lively, engaging look at the film. Barrett proves informative, self-effacing and entertaining as he gives us a pretty terrific overview of his film.

Behind the Scenes of Séance runs 18 minutes, eight seconds and boasts notes from actors Innana Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith, and Madisen Beaty.

As implied by that roster of participants, “Scenes” concentrates on characters, cast and performances, though it also discusses Barrett’s work as director and thoughts about the shoot. Some decent notes emerge but the reel feels fairly fluffy much of the time.

A collection of Outtakes spans one minute, 52 seconds and shows a pretty standard blooper reel. Do with that what you will.

Six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of four minutes, 53 seconds. These offer a little more gore and a bit of additional exposition. None add anything memorable or important.

We can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Barrett, as he provides details about the shots and why he cut them. Barrett already tells us some of this in the main commentary, but he still adds useful notes here.

A Decapitation Previz goes for 20 seconds and displays an extremely crude rendering – with action figures! – of how one gory scene would play. It’s silly but fun.

Finally, we get a Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. It offers 20 shots from the set and becomes a decent collection.

The disc opens with ads for The Owners, The Dark and the Wicked, and Trick. No trailer for Séance appears here.

As a mix of ghost and slasher movies, Séance comes with the potential to create an intriguing mix of genres. Unfortunately, it moves slowly and never turns into anything especially creative. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture and audio as well as a few bonus features headlined by a great commentary. Séance doesn’t bomb but it also can’t find a groove.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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