You're Next writer Simon Barrett makes his directing debut on the film.

By Clark Collis
April 13, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT
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In the horror movie Seance, a new student at the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls discovers that being hazed by her fellow pupils is the least of her concerns.

"Seance is a murder mystery set at a girls boarding school where a young woman recently died," says Simon Barrett, who wrote the film and is making his feature directing debut. "Our hero moves into her dorm room, which is believed to be haunted, and sets about trying to find out what happened."

The movie's protagonist, Camille Meadows, is played by Suki Waterhouse (The Bad Batch, Assassination Nation).

"She was the first person who signed on," says Barrett. "I was looking at Suki originally to play Alice — the bully, the leader of the girls at the school. I thought of Camille as an underdog. Suki is a model, she has such a striking look, I was not certain how that would work. Then I sat down and talked with her for like three hours, and she had an interesting take on Camille and totally got the jokes in the film. She honestly was the only person who thought the script was funny. I texted the financiers right afterwards and was like, 'We should cast her.'"

Seance
Credit: RLJE FILMS

Although the Winnipeg-shot Seance marks Barrett's first outing as a director, he is well known among horror devotees for writing 2011's You're Next, 2014's The Guest, and 2016's Blair Witch, all of which were made by Godzilla vs. Kong filmmaker Adam Wingard. With plenty of low-budget filmmaking experience under this belt, Barrett decided to make life easy for himself by ensuring that all the action in Seance took place at a single location. At least, that was the plan.

"All we needed to do was find a boarding school," he says. "Every school in Winnipeg took one look at the project and told us to take a walk. They were not interested, for whatever reason, in having a giallo slasher throwback about dead students at their school. So we ended up cobbling together eight different locations which are all fairly far apart — and that was a nightmare."

In addition to being a horror movie, Seance is a whodunit — the same genre Rian Johnson successfully mined with Knives Out. So if Seance is a success, will Netflix be giving Barrett $400-plus million to make a couple of sequels?

"That's exactly right," the filmmaker says with a laugh. "I believe that number is a legal thing now. They can't go lower than that, if Seance makes even a dollar.

Seance also stars Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith, Inanna Sarkis, Seamus Patterson, and Marina Stephenson-Kerr. The film will hit theaters and VOD on May 21, before streaming on Shudder later in the year. Watch the exclusive trailer above.

Seance
Credit: RLJE FILMS

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