Adolescence as a narrative resource has a long history of American productions. That stage of life, at times ridiculed and at others effectively exploited (as in the Netflix series Sex Education) serves as a vehicle for directors and screenwriters to dare to tell almost any story. The environment in which they usually develop allows some other freedom, with academic institutions in which different topics coexist. Within this framework, director Simon Barrett developed Séance (2021), part of the billboard that can be enjoyed at the Sitges Film Festival.
Session It is the first film that Simon Barrett directs, after participating in several projects as a screenwriter. Some of them, such as V / H / S (Adam Wingard, 2012), have transcended. Within his previous works you can also find titles such as Temple (2017), Blair Witch (2016) and The Guest (2014), in which he was part of the writing team. In Séance’s case, Simon Barrett not only directs it but also scripts it. Taking that into account, it is the director’s most ambitious personal project.
Séance tells the story of a group of girls who perform a ritual to evoke the spirit of a student who died. That event triggers a series of events, including the arrival of Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse) to the Edelvine Academy, a prestigious institution. Camille has a rough relationship with the girls who performed the ritual and then the film begins to offer various speculations in relation to other deaths that occur. However, it leaves more mixed feelings than aspects to highlight.
The problems of ‘Seance’
Most of Séance’s drawbacks stem from a script that is predictable in almost all its phases, and when not, the knot resolutions are ineffective. On the contrary, the way of serving them upsets its end, being a horror film. Mystery and curiosity during adolescence are valuable potentials within American narratives. But its use also carries a risk: repeating yourself or not offering anything different.
Simon Barrett may have tried to solve the above by attributing to his protagonist, Camille, a role that with the passing of production seems to be that of an antihero taken from the DC comics. But between his arrival at the institute and the development of his character there are a series of threads that were not taken. Therefore, the main story offered by the account is not effective. The others, closely linked to it, do not reach their greatest potential either.
Conversely, are penalized for twists that weaken all production with obvious resolutions and, in some cases, unlikely. It is valid to suspect that the fictional pact can expand beyond the normal in the case of horror films. Yes. But that requirement must be justified in order to seduce the viewer, not to impose questions that have no greater relationship or meaning within Séance’s story.
This tarnishes Simon Barrett’s behind-the-scenes work in Séance, correct and successful in some games, but conditioned by a story that progressively loses the values with which it is presented or alters the weight of some of the topics discussed, such as bullying. , causing them to go under the table or be ridiculed.