Lionsgate // 2006 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 25th, 2008
Be careful what you bring back.
College students + séance = killer janitor. Obviously.
The dorm has been vacated, leaving only a handful of college students to fart around, looking for kicks. Those kicks turn out to be of the supernatural variety. Turns out the place is haunted by -- of course -- a creepy little girl and four friends decide to kill some time and hold a séance to converse with her.
Alas, apparently you can't summon spirits that are already hanging around on Earth. As a result, a new, malicious spirit is brought back from the other side, the murderous janitor (Adrian Paul) who starts offing the students one by one. To curtail the slaughter our heroes will read a term paper about séances. And win!
Adrian Paul makes a pretty decent slasher-killer, but there's nothing else going on with this low-impact ghost story to merit a recommendation.
It's apparent that writer/director Mark L. Smith is relying on the tried-and-true "jump scare" tactic to generate most of the shocks, utilizing the weird-walking ghost girl tactic. Thing is, the girl isn't as creepy-looking as she should be. Aside from a crooked neck, she's your basic, run-of-the-mill cute little girl. With that usually bankable scare tactic of no use, the responsibility of the horror heavy-lifting falls to Adrian Paul. The guy is a solid physical menace who says nary a word by scowls like a champ. But he's not particularly fear-inducing.
So...that means the movie isn't fear-inducing, right? Right. I like the atmosphere okay, and the setting of the abandoned dorm works (though it looks more like an abandoned warehouse) and the characters aren't terribly irritating, but the whole experience just comes off as mediocre.
What's above average is the gore. The killing starts out with little fanfare, but as the film rolls along and Adrian Paul's character puts his back into it, the fodder meet grisly and grislier ends. And aside from the occasional misfire (some guy manages to slice through his neck and produce and arterial spray with some sewing shears) the kills are entertaining.
There's nothing else much to say here. Overall, Séance isn't a bad movie, just an utterly unremarkable one, and in the crowded field of direct-to-DVD horror movies "utterly unremarkable" won't cut it.
Technically, the disc is a winner. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen looks great, maintaining strong color levels throughout. A decent 5.1 audio mix supplements the video. Only one extra of note, a behind-the-scenes featurette.
This doesn't suck. And that's about it.
The accused is to remain light as a feather and stiff as a board.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R