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Film Review: The Spiritualist (2016)

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SYNOPSIS:

Laura, suffering horrific night terrors and sleep paralysis, believes the sinister spirit haunting her is the ghost of her mother. Scared and desperate, she reaches out to the spiritualist to host a seance with her friends. Everyone is terrorized as the entity makes them all confront their worst fears.

REVIEW:

The Spiritualist (2016) was written and directed by Carl Medland, who also has a small role in the film, and is also known for Paranormal Farm (2017), The Adored (2012), and The Cost of Love (2011). After battling a lengthy, mysterious illness, Laura’s (Jasmyn Banks) mother (Julie T. Wallace) took her own life. Laura had been helping care for her mother, but eventually couldn’t handle the stress involved and moved away and met Jake (Judson Vaughan). The Spiritualist picks up after the death of Laura’s mother and she and Jake have moved into her parent’s expansive home where Laura is in mourning and having flashbacks about her mother’s life. The cinematography is well done and even though there are not many outdoor scenes, the locations where this was filmed are very scenic and the house actually looks a lot like a castle.

Laura has started having nightmares and hearing and seeing strange things, which leads her to believe she may not be alone in the house. Oddly what Laura is experiencing is very similar to the things her mother was complaining about before her death. She believes it might be the spirit of her mother that is haunting her.

There are also flashbacks of Laura’s father (Ian Reddington), who his mother caught cheating on her, which led to their breakup before his death. Laura’s mother frequently lashed out at those around her. Her behavior could have been related to her illness, and Laura worries that she might be suffering from the same strange medical condition. Jake begins to question Laura’s mental state and thinks it would be a good idea to have some of their friends over for the weekend. Laura’s long-time friend Petra (Petra Bryant) is also concerned about Laura and offers to bring a woman she knows who is a Spiritualist to the weekend get together. Laura isn’t completely receptive to the idea of having someone who specializes in contacting spirits come to her home, but she reluctantly agrees to the weekend plans.

Petra, her boyfriend Jody (Ross William Wild), and another couple, Arron (Arron Blake) and Daniel (Lee Knight), all come to the house for the weekend. This is the first time that Laura and her friends have met Jody, who Petra has been dating for a while, and he has an abrasive personality as well as a dark past. When the Spiritualist (Caroline Burns Cooke) arrives, Laura is surprised to learn that she is blind, but she quickly explains to her that losing her sight has enhanced her other senses and even her ability to communicate with the dead. This film is definitely a slow burner and some of the acting is a bit over the top, but overall the cast is likable and committed to making the characters believable.

The Spiritualist suggests the group of friends participate with her in a séance to try and contact any spirits that may be in the house. They do get a response from a spirit which causes Laura to get so upset that she has to leave the room and everyone else decides to go back to their rooms for the night. The special effects are simple but effective. Things start getting really crazy when someone, or something, begins stalking each person in the house one at a time.

The final act of the film is so intense and entertaining that I really wish the pace had picked up sooner. The big reveal of what has actually been happening to Laura as well as the truth about her family’s past is an intriguing story and I think the movie would not have seemed so slow, and might have been more enjoyable overall, if they had not saved all of the excitement for the end.

The Spiritualist (2016) – 3 out of 5 Skulls

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