A position for enrolment at Fairfield Academy becomes available after the mysterious death of a young woman in her room. Camille (Suki Waterhouse) applies for the opening and is accepted. But fitting into the Academy among peers is not an easy task, and she finds herself having to stand against those who try to bully and belittle her. Camille ends up in a brawl, gaining a black eye.
But Camille begins to question the mysterious death of the former room owner when she suspects a supernatural element lurks around the Academy. Teaming up with other students, they attempt to find answers to the mysterious death and strange occurrences on campus. It’s not long until more dead bodies appear and proof of the supernatural becomes more evident, leading to more questions being raised by the students. Is all of this terror the work of something ghostly, or perhaps it’s a killer? No matter, they must get to the bottom of it.
Seance is best classed as a horror thriller with some supernatural themes. Directed and written by Simon Barrett, it’s evident that there’s a joy in combining supernatural and mysterious horror elements. The majority of the plot is engaging, and once the film begins, viewers will be quite eager to know the truth after a fun, solid mystery is introduced. The mysteries driving the runtime cannot be answered unless viewers go on a journey with our leading characters, building a fun and revealing third act. I found this third act unpredictable and rewarding. Visually this film carries a wonderfully dark tone, and the general setting of the Academy is also a nice fit.
While many moments throughout Seance are fun and engaging, the top performance was the opposite for me. Lead actress Suki Waterhouse delivered many dull and bland moments as Camille. Line deliveries are spoken in a monotone voice, and there are even moments that lack facial expressions. Some side characters also have a childish nature, as if this film would be better set in a high school, not an Academy.
Overall, it has a great setup with many mysteries introduced that carry the entire film. It’s a basic yet effective horror and thriller combined, and the finale was rewarding and generally unpredictable. The film is dark in tone which is fitting, and locations are also great to see. The lead character and selected side characters were certainly the film’s biggest drawback and were either bland, dull or childish. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had here, and it’s a wonderful achievement from the director and writer Simon Barrett. Seance (2021) is available on Shudder from September 29th.