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Film / Séance

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Five college kids, one ghostly killer... you do the math.

Séance is a 2006 supernatural horror film, with some elements of the slasher genre.

For as long as most people can remember, the Chelsea Building (former apartment, now a university dormitory) has been plagued by the spirit of a little girl, nicknamed "Chelsea" after the building. Few know the girl, actually named Cara Furia, lived in the building during the sixties, dying in 1965 when she fell down an elevator shaft when her mother was out, and while her older sister was asleep. Ever since then, Cara has stuck around for reasons unbeknownst to anyone but herself.

By 2006, a girl named Lauren and her friends Alison and Melina have moved into Cara's old place. While Cara's antics (which consist primarily of making patterns on the bathroom floor) intrigue and frighten Lauren, her roommates are quick to dismiss them. When Thanksgiving weekend arrives, Lauren and her gal pals opt to stay on campus instead of going home, their only companions being middle-aged security guard Syd, Alison's boyfriend Diego (who is stuck pet sitting his roomie's parrot) and Grant, the reclusive boy who lives down the hall.

After a bit of partying, and learning about Cara from Grant, Lauren and her roommates decide to hold a séance, led by Diego, a self-proclaimed expert on the subject (he wrote a term paper on spirits... it got a C-). When attempts to communicate with Cara prove futile, the group switch things up and try reaching out to James Spence (Adrian Paul), a deceased maintenance man who Grant's room used to belong to. Calling out to James actually works, and the group end up successfully summoning him. Unfortunately for them, it turns out James was a serial killer who was executed via the electric chair in 1973 when he was connected to the deaths of several children.

He's glad to be back in his old home, with a boatload of fun powers at his disposal and... well, see the above tagline.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Bedsheet Ladder: Lauren suggests trying to escape the building with one.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Cara, in the aforementioned opening.
  • Body Horror: Cara retains the broken neck that killed her.
  • Body Surf: James acquires this power when a ritual that was supposed to trap him in a parrot is botched.
  • Break the Cutie: Alison is mutilated with wires, and possibly raped, before finally being killed.
  • Broken Heel: While backing away from Cara, Lauren falls into the bathtub.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Lauren experiences one at the beginning.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lauren uses scissors to dig out Cara's diary. James later uses the same pair to slit Diego's throat.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Johnny the Parrot, though what they intend to use him for fails.
  • Closed Circle: Per university regulations, Syd locked down the whole building.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Cara gets some:
    • Using a circle of bottles to point to the spot in the bathroom floor where her diary is.
    • Writing "No" on the mirror when the group decide to try summoning her and James.
    • Writing "Killer" on the mirror, and later an empty room, in reference to James.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Attempting to communicate with a benevolent ghost brings forth a really, really bad one.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Lauren's nightmare, and the flashback to Cara's death.
  • Distinguishing Mark: James's Creepy Blue Eyes.
  • Dramatic Drop: Syd, when he realizes the person in the shower he was spying on was Diego.
  • Drop the Hammer: The group try to trap James in a parrot, intent on killing it directly afterward with a hammer, thus also killing James. When this fails and Diego gets possessed, James gets one solid whack in with the hammer before Lauren stops him.
  • Empathic Environment: It's stormy for almost the entire film.
  • Evil Elevator: The wires mutilate Alison, and it later crushes her.
  • Evil Phone/Harassing Phone Call: At one point James calls all the phones, and does his creepy little whistle.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: James is much more terrifying sounding as a ghost than as a man.
  • Final Girl: Lauren, though Melina also survives.
  • Fingore: Syd gets a piece of glass he had earlier dropped stuck in his hand.
  • Genre Shift: Essentially goes from haunting to slasher.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Melina: "What are you trying to say, Lauren?"
    Lauren: "That we ask her again."
    Melina: "No, no way. No, I am not wasting my time."
  • Ghostly Goals: Cara wants her diary found, since it reveals what really happened to her.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: How the girls get liquor out of Syd's desk, and how Lauren at one point tries to unlock the front door.
  • Haunted Heroine: Lauren is the only one Cara initially tries reaching out to.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To make up for the fact that he abandoned her earlier, Grant saves Lauren by forcing James to possess him, then commits suicide.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Melina seems to be the mother kind.
  • Improvised Weapon: After her nightmare, Lauren wields a small fan while going into the washroom. James also makes use of a phone cord and a pair of scissors.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Done with Cara, but not James. For some reason he has his old custodial uniform, instead of the expected prison jumpsuit.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: James finally decided to kill Cara by making it look like she fell down an elevator shaft.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The séance, which was intended to be used to communicate with Cara, summons James. Later, when the group try forcing James into a parrot, the ritual is compromised, and gives James the ability to possess people.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We don't see what James does to Alison, we just hear her begging him to stop, and see Cara scream in response.
  • Not Quite Dead: James... "survives" being electrocuted by a cable. Syd also lives despite all his injuries, only to later be possessed.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: James can't be seen in the light, and can be hurt by what killed him (electricity, since he got the chair). Cara doesn't seem to follow the same rules, however.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Cara shows Lauren the night she died.
  • Rape as Drama: James apparently sexually assaults Alison.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: When he first appears, Diego has a pink robe (which he borrowed) on. He decides to keep it.
  • The Scourge of God: Played straight with most of the victims, but averted with Lauren and Meline. They both drink stolen whiskey, and the latter smokes a joint, yet they survive.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Instead of trying to help Lauren, Melina, and Syd in the basement, Grant runs off.
  • Serial Killer: Along with Cara, James raped and killed five other girls before being caught and executed.
  • Sex Signals Death: Alison (who was waiting for Diego to get back for shenanigans) and Syd (who enjoys peeping on the showers) are both horribly maimed.
  • Shirtless Scene: Both Grant and Diego get 'em.
  • Shoot the Dog: One way to get rid of a ghost is by killing someone or something they possess (whether they do it willingly or by being forced to by a chant).
  • Shower Scene: We get to see Diego's bare ass.
  • The Stinger: Syd is shown being loaded into an ambulance. When he opens his eyes, they're the same color as James's.
  • The Voiceless: Cara never speaks. Likewise, outside a flashback and one word before he attacks Syd, neither does James.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Upon finding Grant after he left her and Melina in the basement, Lauren smacks him and calls him out on it.