By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Clever, gory ghost story/serial killer teen horror movie.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main motivations here are revenge and self-preservation (at the cost of all others).
Positive Role Models
Characters are interesting, but hardly any have worthy motivations. Only Helina shows kindness toward the new girl in school and appears to have no ulterior motives. While main character is White, most other characters are people of color.
Violence & Scariness
Strong blood and gore. Characters die, dead bodies. Gory stabbing and slicing, with blood spurts. Character beheaded by falling cabinet. Characters hit with hammer and falling light fixture. Character stabbed and sliced with broken flourescent light bulb. Young woman on ground, dead from fall, blood puddle around her head. Suicide mentioned. Scary ghosts. Jump scares. Young women fighting, punching/hitting each other. Cuts and bruises on faces. Characters tied up. Bathtub full of "blood" (fake). Threats. Violent dialogue ("I cut her wrists," etc.).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Young woman in shower (nothing graphic shown). Midriff-revealing outfit. One character gives another an admiring glance while passing in the hallway.
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Strong, fairly frequent language includes "f--k," "bulls--t," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "screwing," and "oh my God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Young adults smoke pot. (One says "I think I'm pretty high.") Character takes Xanax for sleeping.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Seance is a smart, well-made horror movie about ghosts and a murder spree at an exclusive girls' school. Expect a lot of graphic blood and gore: Several characters are stabbed or sliced, and there are several big blood spurts. Characters are also hit with hammers and falling objects, people fight and punch each other, and one character is shown dead, having fallen out of a window (suicide is mentioned). There are also ghosts and other scary stuff, jump scares, etc. Two young women kiss, one wears a midriff-revealing outfit, and there's some flirting. A woman takes a shower, but nothing graphic is shown. Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus "a--hole" and "s--t." Characters smoke pot (one says "I think I'm pretty high") and take Xanax for sleeping.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In SEANCE, at the Edelvine Academy for Girls, a cruel prank performed by Alice (Inanna Sarkis) causes Kerrie (Megan Best) to plummet to her death from her dorm window. Camille (Suki Waterhouse) arrives to fill Kerrie's place at the exclusive school. She befriends Helina (Ella-Rae Smith) but instantly gets on Alice's bad side. After serving detention together, the girls -- including Bethany (Madisen Beaty), Lenora (Jade Michael), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara), and Yvonne (Stephanie Sy) -- decide to hold a séance to connect with Kerrie. They seem to make contact, but, unfortunately, they then start meeting violent ends at the hands of a killer. Is Kerrie's ghost responsible?
Is It Any Good?
Inspired by gory Italian horror classics, this hushed, wintry movie mixes things up and keeps viewers guessing by cleverly alternating supernatural, nightmare imagery with human-created scares. The feature directing debut by screenwriter Simon Barrett (You're Next, The Guest, Blair Witch) -- who also directed the wrapraound segment of V/H/S/2 -- Seance shows a definite awareness of movie history and horror clichés. Sometimes the movie plays right into them (as when one character decides to practice her ballet, alone, in the dark, with headphones on, while a killer is loose), and other times, nothing is what it seems.
The movie's mood, which matches the ever drifting snow, is chilled and quiet, enhancing the quality of the scary scenes. When something suddenly jumps out, it carries a bigger shock. But the mood also extends to the characters, who sometimes seem half-frozen themselves. They're still appealing, as many seem driven by loneliness, but if the few connections that are made on-screen could have been emotionally elevated a little bit, their impact could have been much stronger. Still, Seance is a smart, satisfying movie and a promising debut by Barrett.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Seance's violence. How did it make you feel? How much is shown and not shown? Is the violence intended to be shocking or thrilling? How can you tell?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like to be scared?
How is suicide handled in the movie?
What are the motivations of the main character? Of the killer? Are these purely selfish motivations? Do they benefit anyone else?
How is drug use depicted? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?
- In theaters: May 21, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 2021
- Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith
- Director: Simon Barrett
- Studios: RLJ Entertainment, Shudder
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody horror violence, language and some drug use
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
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