Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
March 1st, 2013

Seance: the Summoning

Seance: the Summoning
Written by Alex Wright
Directed by Alex Wright Starring Bobby Campo, Nazneen Contractor, Chris Olivero
85 mins

Another one that's been on my stack of movies to catch up on for some time is "Seance: The Summoning". With as many witchboards around as this one seems to have in play, it could be very good indeed.

Seance: The Summoning is pretty much exactly what it says on the box. Four college students are going to get together to film a movie proving the existence of the paranormal, and will do so by conduction a seance at the workplace of one of the foursome. Interestingly, said workplace happens to be a mortuary. But the seance, not surprisingly, goes wrong in short order, and it's left to the foursome--or rather, three out of the four--to try and stem the tide against the unexpected issue.

It's been my experience that most any movie involving witchboards--as the box art certainly implies will show up--tend not to end well for anyone. See, one thing that Christians, pagans, paranormal investigators and horror movies all agree on is that those things are dangerous. Whether you call them witchboards, planchettes, Ouija boards or anything else--there are some subtle differences, supposedly--the consensus seems to be that these things are a bad idea, though the reasons vary from perspective to perspective. Still, getting out a witchboard of some kind means bad signs moving.

Indeed, those bad signs will happen here, and after a comparatively slow opening twenty minutes, the whole thing takes off after that to be a pretty impressive piece of work indeed. It's been a good while since I saw a horror movie that was actually a full-on good-versus-evil slugfest and this at least tries for that. Admittedly, I've seen better such examples of the knock-down drag-out, but this is still a reasonably good try. A pair of amateurs clearly trying their best against a horror they can barely comprehend is just the kind of thing that horror movies have been lacking for some time.

The ending is a little unlikely, but for sheer bombast, it really can't be denied. It's also a bit on the unclear side, as we're not sure just how well the plan actually worked. The last few seconds certainly don't help matters, and it almost feels like Wright painted himself into a corner and pulled a mild deus ex machina to get himself out of it. Still though, it ended reasonably well, and that's better than many can say.

As for special features, we'll get your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, as well as a behind the scenes featurette and trailers for The Last Exorcism, Knock Knock 2, Rogue River, and trailers for FearNet and Epix.

Seance: The Summoning is a callback to the good old fashioned horror of the eighties, with clear villains, clear--though flawed--good guys and a clear battle to be waged between them. It's the kind of thing that horror has been lacking for a while now, and seeing it make a comeback at this level is a welcome development. It may be a bit on the simple side, but it's been a while since we've had something like this, and that makes Seance: The Summoning well worth a rental.