There's a movie I put off watching for almost a month now, knowing that I really wanted to check it out because of how right up my alley it looks - and I'm now regretting my decision to hold off on the movie until now because I'm in love with it. THE SEANCE, written by R.J. Buckley and directed by Christopher James Cramer, physically grabs its audience from the opening scene and pretty much refuses to let up its grip until the credits roll, and it's fantastic - and the only way to truly understand it is to experience it. Chances are, if you're a horror fanatic like myself, you have at least some sort of interest in either the paranormal or spiritualism or something along those lines. Well Cramer manages to put together this gorgeous film that explores the dichotomy of the believer and the skeptic, and the subtle butting of the two heads. When the skeptic simply refuses to believe that the experiences that take place during the séance they hold are anything but puppetry and tricks, she pushes herself further and further into a world she doesn't know anything about: the world of the afterlife, and who's on the other side. THE SEANCE has just the right amount of seriousness, comedy, emotion and creative backstory to conjure up a movie that I honestly believe is destined to be a fan favorite. Very rarely do I re-watch movies without a few months in-between viewings, but I was seriously ready to rewind the film back to the beginning as soon as the credits started, and the only thing that stopped me was a time constraint. The Seance definitely feels like a well kept secret in the horror community right now, but this one's definitely got a permanent spot in my collection.
The Seance wastes no time in launching the viewer right into the action its self; the film opens with the seance just beginning, as the five people participating are forming the circle with their hands around the table. The leader of the seance and owner of the house Nate (played by Michael Minto) humbly goes over the rules and guidelines of the ritual, reminding the participants to not break the circle under any circumstance. As the seance gets underway with a mixture of skeptics and believers at the table, the room - which is decorated with candles and musical instruments intended to be tools for the spirits to communicate - comes alive with knocking and the pressing of piano keys; signs that someone or something is in the room. As one of the believers begins to ask questions, her husband reveals himself as being the one "answering the call" by playing two of her favorite songs on the piano - a sign that it's truly him. As things ramp up, it's hard to quell one's emotions as the room becomes lively while the five participants remain perfectly still - unless your an absolute die-hard skeptic. And unluckily for Nate, one of the guests tonight is a popular YouTube personality who has a show dedicated to debunking spiritualism and the afterlife. Andy (played by Miranda Skerman) is hellbent on exposing the "lies" Nate tells his guests, and insists there's puppeteering and tricks being played by a team of scam artists who are looking to make a quick buck on people's grieving. So Nate reluctantly allows Andy to stay after the other guests have left to give her time to ask questions and basically pull apart his house room by room to try and find what she claims is string being pulled to move things or the battery to the self-playing piano - all things she cannot find. Things take a dark turn for Andy - who broke the circle during the seance - when she receives a phone call from her deceased mother and the house of spirits really come alive to haunt the skeptic and the host. Will Nate and Andy be able to escape the spirits who lay claim to the house of horrors? Or is the house really laid with tricks to coerce grieving guests who fork over their money to "talk" to their dead loved ones? Find out in... THE SEANCE!
The seance its self is only a small fraction of the film, but it's impact is reflected in the movie's hour and 22 minute runtime. Breaking the circle was a dreadful thing to do, and Andy essentially opened up a dangerous connection to the other side by doing so. But her head just refused to let her believe that what she - and the others at the table - experienced that evening was truly unexplainable and not just another hoax by a money hungry con man. After the other three participants leave the house and only Andy and Nate remain, the film essentially becomes a two person play as the pair hurl subtle digs at each other and Nate essentially lets Andy pick apart his life and house, trying to find anything to exploit while also trying to convince Nate to allow her to film inside the house. But out of respect of the spirits who reside there - since it is their house after all - he doesn't even entertain the idea for a second. The character Nate is a super likable, charming and even funny dude who for some reason you'll find you just want to trust. Andy, on the other hand, is annoying and frustrating and even obnoxious - and it's perfect for the story. The film really does focus on the back and forth between the two opposite ends - the believer and the skeptic - for a good chunk of the movie, and their clashing personalities reflect that so well. And while Andy totally comes across as the killjoy of any party she's at, the backstory for why she is the way she is was put perfectly into the film. Actually come to think of it, a lot of things were just placed perfectly into the film; everything from the seance to what follows are just felt like it was right where it should be. Maybe that's why the flow of the film is so natural and smooth as the story progresses and unfolds.
The Seance isn't like any other paranormal film you've seen in the past; it feels unique and genuine in a lot of ways that other films have felt... forced. There's a remarkable story hidden beneath the seance scene that kicks off the movie, and there's a set of haunting spirits just dying to meet you along the way. Not only does the movie look absolutely gorgeous (the room filled with lit candelabras made my goth heart melt) but it's got a story with a ton of heart hidden inside. Minto and Skerman absolutely slay their roles in the film and are a pleasure to watch as they rally subtle comments back and forth at each other while calling each other out on their beliefs. The films third act definitely changes the tone and feel of the film quite a bit from the previous two, but it does so to deliver the films very enjoyable and satisfying ending. I'll be honest, the movie has nothing groundbreaking going on in it, there's no epic twists and turns it sends you down; it just tells an honestly enjoyable back and forth between two individuals on opposite ends of the spiritualism spectrum, each with good reasoning for their beliefs, too. I honestly regret putting this flick off for the last few weeks but I'm so glad I finally got the chance to check it out. It will definitely set a mood where ever you're watching it, and that alone was worth it to me. Now if you don't mind, I'm off to go watch it again... check this one out!!