‘Tarot’ movie review: A rudimentary horror flick that’s several cards short of a full deck

Larsen Thompson Elise in ‘Tarot’ 
| Photo Credit: Slobodan Pikula

Picture this — you are being chased by an evil spirit that’s dead-bent on taking your life. What would you do might not be an easy question to answer, but I’m pretty sure we would be on the same page on what you would not be doing. For starters, if a ghost is hot on your heels, you wouldn’t go searching for it up an attic at night, you wouldn’t go running to the house’s basement, you wouldn’t hide inside a large box that closes from the outside, and you definitely wouldn’t split up from your gang of friends. Unfortunately, these are precisely what you see the characters do in Tarot, which is so filled with clichés that it has almost no space for anything spooky.

Tarot (English)

Directors: Spenser Cohen, Anna Halberg

Cast: Harriet Slater, Adain Bradley, Avantika Vandanapu, Jacob Batalon

Runtime: 94 minutes

Storyline: A group of friends read their horoscopes with a box of strange tarot cards and inadvertently wake up an evil spirit

Speaking of which, the film starts in the infamous ‘mansion in the woods in the middle of nowhere’ trope. A gang of friends rent it out for the weekend and out of boredom, open a restricted room to find a box of strange tarot cards with which one of them reads out the horoscope for everyone. Thankfully, the very next day, they move out putting an end to my expectation that they be taken out one by one in the very mansion itself. But just like the persistent ghost, the clichés make a terrifying comeback, as once they are back in New York, the youngsters get taken down one after the other… you guessed it, as predicted by the cards.

Adain Bradley Grant and Avantika Vandanapu Paige in ‘Tarot’ 

Adain Bradley Grant and Avantika Vandanapu Paige in ‘Tarot’ 
| Photo Credit:
Slobodan Pikula

Truth be told, it’s been a while since we had a banal horror flick sticking to the traditional tropes of the genre that are as old as the haunted hills; the eerie silence before every scary sequence, squeaky doors that are loud enough to wake up neighbours, and jump scares out of nowhere. For those who grew up on a steady diet of films that swore by these concepts, Tarot is a perfect example of why they’re long gone. Probably the only enjoyable aspect of Tarot is the kills and some of them are ingenious. As horrific as it might sound, the film leaves you wishing the gang was a little bigger so we get more fascinating character deaths. Given how weak the characters are sketched, you’d be pardoned for having such thoughts.

Astonishingly, even the flashback on what made an innocent soul turn evil — which happens to be the most intriguing part of films from this genre — feels terribly underwhelming. There isn’t much one can expect from a film that lays all its cards on the table, quite literally, in the first 10 minutes and even teaches you how to pronounce the word ‘Tarot’ so that you get it right when someone asks you what you wasted your time over. Unless you’re a fan of old-school horror flicks that are riddled with clichés and a few grotesquely gratifying kills, this tale has no scope for anything entertaining.

Tarot is currently running in theatres

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