Tarot Movie Review: An archaic approach to horror that leaves much to be desired

Tarot Movie Review: An archaic approach to horror that leaves much to be desired

The drawbacks of the film not only stem from the formulaic writing but also from the aged execution we have seen time and again in horror films for years
Tarot(2 / 5)

Remember the core idea in the Final Destination franchise? — the shadow of death looms over the characters and slowly hunts them down one after the other. Tarot hovers around this idea but with the added spice of supernatural elements. Sounds intriguing! However, it fails to flesh out its potential. Loaded with cliches of the genre, the film offers nothing more than a lacklustre horror experience.

Director: Spenser Cohen, Anna Halberg

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

The drawbacks of the film not only stem from the formulaic writing but also from the aged execution we have seen time and again in horror films for years. When a group of teenagers are the fulcrum of a horror narrative, we can already anticipate the typical archetypes: the funny one, the sceptic, the one who triggers the horror or the one who encounters the ghost, and two or three naive and innocent ones, depending on the number of characters introduced in the film. And, of course, a sorcerer, who enters to drive the plot at a juncture where there seems to be no hope.

In the context of genre films, it is better to ease into the setting and build up to the eerie experience rather than plunging directly into the core elements. However, Tarot falters in this regard as it directly begins by showing a group of friends renting an ancient house in the middle of the woods, which removes any and all hopes of being surprised as an audience. Although the dialogues serve the purpose of setting up the plot, the execution could have worked better in terms of world-building. This bland beginning dilutes the intrigue, laying bare the shortcomings of the direction as well as the writing. As an overall outcome, the film feels like an extended episode of a horror series.

The utmost purpose of horror is to incite a sense of fear by building up tension. Showcasing blood and gore with sporadic placements of jump scares might contribute to this. Tarot tries to build dread by making us anticipate just scary moments. However, When a supernatural entity is chasing a character, how long can we realistically expect to maintain our sense of tension and suspense? If the chase or hunt goes on too long, it can become tedious and dull, and it can't be saved by jump scares or other dramatic effects. All the deaths in the film made you unwittingly utter 'finally'.

In the film, the ghost is given a backstory that is as old as the genre itself. As you leave the theatre, you can't help but wonder if someone had read the tarot cards for this film; perhaps it wouldn't have turned out so mediocre.

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