In the Seance Trailer, Mean Girls and Ghosts Deploy Their Fiercest Scare Tactics

lla-Rae Smith, Suki Waterhouse, Djouliet Amara, Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, and Stephanie Sy in Seance.
lla-Rae Smith, Suki Waterhouse, Djouliet Amara, Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, and Stephanie Sy in Seance.
Image: RLJE Films

It’s easy to see why filmmakers love setting horror movies at boarding schools: they offer so many opportunities for unsupervised kids to endanger themselves with spooky mischief. As its title suggests, Seance shows what happens when a group of teens add “paranormal meddling” to their list of extracurriculars.


Seance is the directorial debut of Simon Barrett, whose name horror fans will recognize since he wrote You’re Next, the most recent Blair Witch movie, The Guest, and segments in the anthology films V/H/S, V/H/S/2, and The ABCs of Death. The first trailer dropped today (via Bloody Disgusting and Entertainment Weekly), and its “boarding school girls vs. ghosts” energy is definitely promising.

In a director’s statement, Barrett says he’s long been a fan of horror movies that unfold as murder mysteries, because “there’s always an element of the unknown, or the unknowable, at the center of the narrative, with the characters providing the audience with a tool to scrape away at its surface, ideally dreading what they may find beneath.” He names some classics that are examples of this and provided inspiration (“the original Black Christmas, The House on Sorority Row or Scream, or beloved giallos such as Deep Red, The Black Belly of the Tarantula, and Blood and Black Lace”) and says “I have long wanted to make my own variation of this horror-mystery narrative, but with the added goal of weaving in supernatural elements, as ghost stories tend to be murder mysteries as well. This thought process led me to write Seance, a film that I hope pays effective homage to the teen slasher mysteries of my youth, while at the same time being its own unique thing.”

Seance stars Suki Waterhouse (The Bad Batch), Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith, Innana Sarkis, Seamus Patterson, and Marina Stephenson-Kerr; it’ll be out in theaters, on demand, and on digital May 21.

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io9 News Editor, here since 2016. Previously SF Bay Guardian newspaper (RIP), SFSU (MA, Cinema Studies), member of the SF Bay Area Film Critics Circle, big fan of horror, metal, and verrry small dogs.


Jack Jones

The banner pic looks like Hogwarts meets Mean Girls.

Except Hermione was the OG Bitchiosa.