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May 3, 2024

Starring: Harriet Slater, Adain Bradley, Avantika, Wolfgang Novogratz, Humberly González, Larsen Thompson, Jacob Batalon

Directed By: Anna Halberg, Spenser Cohen

When a group of friends recklessly violates the sacred rule of Tarot readings – never use someone else's deck – they unknowingly unleash an unspeakable evil trapped within the cursed cards. One by one, they come face to face with fate and end up in a race against death to escape the future foretold in their readings.

Written By Darren Zakus

Rating 2 out of 5

Tarot has some exciting and spine tingling moments, but a weak and generic story that never explores any of its intriguing plot threads makes this horror movie one that is not in the cards for fans of the genre.

Supernatural parlour games have always had an important place in the horror genre. Whether it be a ouija board, possessed body parts that become an urban legend and challenge, or readings, they have all acted as a doorway to the other side. They have often been the subject of horror films, for better with films like Talk To Me and the incredibly underrated Ouija: Origin of Evil, or for the worse with films like Ouija. Now, it is time for tarot cards and readings to get their starring role in the latest horror film from Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg: Tarot. Released with little promotion, audiences will no doubt be apprehensive to check this film out as films that are silently released without anyone’s knowledge are usually an indicator that it’s not a good film. While Tarot has some good aspects, overall it is a generic and hardly scary experience that results in a truly forgettable trip to the cinema.

With a run time of ninety-two minutes, there is not a second to be wasted in Tarot, for better or worse. The film never stops moving after the introductory tarot card reading sequences, which sets up the events of the story, jumping from set piece to set piece as the readings become a reality for the young college students who find themselves cursed. While I applaud the film for keeping the story simple, it feels overly simplified and generic in terms of what unfolds, which makes it feel rushed in terms of storytelling. Any interesting plot threads are quickly brushed over, character development is almost non-existent, removing any substance from the story so despite its quick pace and short runtime, makes the film feel much longer than it is. Especially by the time the film reaches its final act, where it has the most painfully convenient solution that will cause some minor eye rolling from horror fans.

The cast does what they can with the screenplay they are given, trying to create moments of entertainment throughout the film. Jacob Batalon does his usual routine, which works and generates some laughter, but wears thin quickly as it’s all one sided from him and not reciprocated by the other cast members. Avantika, who impressed me in the Mean Girls remake earlier this year, is fine for most of the film but becomes great when it comes for her character to face the cards in the film’s final act. And while his role was very small, Wolfgang Novogratz created the most heart to any character in this film and that he has to be commended for efforts he poured into his character.

Where the film does have some great moments is in the set pieces where the tarot card and the readings come to life. They are the focal point of the film, and while the editing in them can be frantic and distracting at times, they push the boundaries of the PG-13 at times. The scenes are slightly gory, nerve wracking, and exciting to watch (in the sense that this is what you want to watch a horror film for). Without a doubt, the two best are the jester and magician sequences, fully utilizing every second of the sequence to build anxiety within viewers before unleashing the big moment that will make you slightly squirm in your seat. It allows directors Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg flex their creative vision, showcasing their ability to direct some good horror sequences.

As a horror fan, part of loving the genre is watching all films in it regardless of how good you think they are going to be. Because even some of the genre’s worst films have some redeeming qualities and will deliver either the spine tingling chills or bloody deaths that fans expect from these stories. Sadly, Tarot is generic and very forgettable that offers little to the genre despite having some truly creepy moments that showed the story’s potential which did not translate to the screen well. There is no question great creature design and some kill sequences that are genuinely exciting and have the perfect creepy atmosphere to them, but Tarot suffers from an overly generic story and no sense of character which removes any stakes to the story, making the film’s runtime of ninety two minutes feel much longer than it actually is.

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