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Case Number 24675

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Seance: The Summoning

Lionsgate // 2011 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // October 17th, 2012

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All Rise...

The power of Judge Paul Pritchard compels you to avoid this movie.

The Charge

Dare To Play.

Opening Statement

"This'll put hair on yer tits!"

Facts of the Case

Four friends break into the local morgue in order to settle a bet. Joey (Bobby Campo, The Final Destination), a nonbeliever, claims Eva's (Nazneen Contractor) assertion that she can commune with the dead is bogus, and so challenges her to prove it. Along with born-again Christian Sara (Devon Ogden), and Marcus (Chris Olivero), who plans to film them, Eva begins the seance.

The group's initial attempts to contact the dead stop abruptly when Joey panics and breaks the circle, unwittingly releasing an evil spirit. When the group reconvenes for a second attempt, the demon makes its move and possesses Joey.

With Joey's body under the control of the darkness, his friends must fight to free their friend before he kills them all.

The Evidence

Malevolent spirits have long been a mainstay of the horror genre, but much like the much-maligned zombie, they have all too often found themselves the subject of cheap, low-grade, direct-to-video dross. Seance: The Summoning is yet another film to add to that list. Although I've seen far worse, there's no mistaking its lack of quality.

As its title would suggest, the events of Seance: The Summoning hinge upon a seance that results in an evil spirit being unleashed. Regardless of how the rest of the film pans out, one would at least hope this one pivotal scene hits the mark. That it doesn't probably shouldn't come as any surprise, and anyone hoping for something as scary (not to mention downright funny) as the wonderful seance from Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell will be left sorely disappointed. Sure, we get a Ouija board going haywire, the table rocks around violently, and lights flicker menacingly, but there's nothing innovative, or even remotely exciting to find here.

Much of writer-director Alex Wright's narrative is focused on the character of Sara, who has recently converted to Christianity. Sadly, much like her dark secret, which the demon torments her over, her supposed moral conflict regarding her taking part in a seance is never handled in a believable way. This is sadly par for the course in a film where characters have potentially interesting backgrounds that are never fully exploited.

Perhaps the one thing working in the film's favor is that it doesn't mistake gore for real horror. Though there are one or two moments of bloodletting, they are never the focus of what Wright is trying to achieve. Instead Wright is clearly looking to evoke real terror by creating a suitably dark atmosphere. Sadly, thanks in no small part to a mediocre cast, Wright's attempts are futile, no matter how commendable they might be. In terms of his direction, Wright shows an understanding of the basics of a horror movie, but lacks the verve to really pull one of. There are small moments, such as a scene where Eva and Sara attempt to exorcise Joey that work, but all too often, the movie is mundane and desperately in need of an injection of pace. Even at a svelte 88 minutes, Seance: The Summoning drags, with the second act in particular proving to be difficult to sit through.

Lionsgate's DVD presents Seance: The Summoning in a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The picture is sharp, with natural colors and deep black levels. The 5.1 soundtrack offers clean dialogue, with the various sound effects all being easily distinguishable in what is a spacious mix. My one complaint stems from what appear to be syncing issue, whereby the audio isn't quite in time with the video in a handful of scenes. Extras on this release are limited to a "making of" featurette and a trailer. The making of is standard stuff, with writer-director Alex Wright discussing his ideas for the film.

Closing Statement

Don't allow yourself to be swayed by the semi-descent DVD cover art—it doesn't resemble the film in any way, shape, or form. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the horror genre will find Seance: The Summoning offers nothing new, with everything having been done before—only much, much better.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 88
Extras: 50
Acting: 68
Story: 68
Judgment: 68

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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