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Review: Tarot (2024)

Tarot (2024)

Directed by: Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg

Premise: A group of college friends forecast their futures with a cursed tarot card deck. They begin dying in ways that resemble their tarot readings.

What Works: The one interesting aspect of Tarot is the ending. The filmmakers come up with a creative resolution that turns the curse on itself and addresses the trauma and anger of the ghost attached to the tarot deck. It’s a more thoughtful resolution that we typically get from Hollywood studio-backed supernatural horror.

What Doesn’t: Unfortunately, the rest of Tarot is lousy. The film is too dark. Tarot is so poorly lit that a lot of the movie is indecipherable. Matters aren’t helped by the erratic editing. The film uses quick cuts to reveal the supernatural monsters but the editing is frustrating instead of frightening. On the whole, Tarot isn’t very scary. That’s partly because of its technical defects but also due to the lack of characterization, bad performances, and a story that doesn’t make sense. The initial tarot reading is supposed to pass for character development but all it does is tell us who these people are, and in generalized statements, instead of dramatizing who they are through action. No one has any defining characteristics. The characters are interchangeable and uninteresting. The actors do themselves few favors. As their friends start dying none of them behave in a way that reveals grief or fear. Everyone is too cool and disconnected from the threat that is supposedly closing in on them. A lot of details of Tarot don’t make sense. One of their friends dies in an accident but the police interrogate the group as though there’s foul play. The cursed tarot deck is found among a collection of occult objects in a house the characters rented for a weekend. At no point do the characters investigate the owner of that collection. Instead, they do an internet search for cursed tarot cards and find a random local who miraculously knows the backstory of that specific deck. Late in the movie a character does a tarot reading of the ghost attached to the deck but, as established in the opening, tarot readings require knowledge of the subject’s astrological sign which she doesn’t know. Tarot is clearly intended to follow in the footsteps of the Final Destination series as fate catches up with the characters. However, the Final Destination films had quite a bit of creativity and showmanship. Tarot’s death scenes have neither.

Bottom Line: Tarot is shoddy and thoughtless filmmaking. It’s not scary but it is frequently frustrating and stupid.

Episode: #996 (May 12, 2024)