Tarot Review

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Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

It’s inevitable that I will encounter standard, by-the-numbers horror movies from time to time. Tarot is just that. We find a group of friends who throw a party at a mysterious rental home. But a member of the group finds a deck of creepy tarot cards in the basement. The group decides to do readings on one another. But soon after their fates are revealed an unspeakable evil is unleashed, intent on making sure each reading comes true. Can the curse be stopped? Or will their readings become reality?

Positives:

“Tarot” was slightly better than expected. While it doesn’t do much new, it offers an atmospheric venture into the world of the supernatural. There are plenty of creepy scenes in dark settings where characters are left to fend for themselves. There is clear inspiration from other horror movies that have also used these techniques. The way the cards are designed to intertwine with the monsters is very cool. I enjoyed how mythological the monsters felt in tandem with the way they were used. How each card tied into the individual person’s fate was a fresh idea. Each monster has a design that is unsettling and dark. I enjoyed seeing the play on the standard tarot cards with a gruesome twist. Credit to the design team for coming up with such cool creatures.

There is some genuine tension in each of the creature encounters as well. Since every monster plays a distinct role in the fate of our characters, each scene avoids repetition from the last. The way lighting is used throughout the chase scenes was effective in hiding the monsters from plain sight. The sound mimicry and movement throughout the darkness was vital to build the tension. Pacing of the film was also effective at a quick ninety minutes. That’s the perfect runtime for a film of this nature.

Negatives:

Horror movies like “Tarot” are a textbook version of playing it safe. The film had such potential to use the premise of Tarot readings to create a terrifying experience. But to make the story more palatable for younger audiences, the PG-13 rating really hampers the story. Each kill and encounter with a monster feel like the gorier version was left on the cutting room floor. The movie had such potential to be scarier. But we unfortunately get the neutered version of the story, where each kill is handled offscreen and the scary encounters are shortened. There is also a formulaic use of jump scares that are very predictable. I’ll admit I jumped a few times but mainly from the blast of sound and imagery in my face. Good tension and mythological exploration are abandoned for generic jump scares. Unfortunately, the film is mostly by-the-numbers.

The characters are also severely underdeveloped. We don’t feel a connection to any of them. I was hoping at least one of them would be worth latching onto. Any sort of backstory or development felt undercooked and didn’t add much to the story. Even the mysterious astrology lady who helps the kids felt shoehorned into the plot for exposition purposes. I enjoyed her character but wish she had more of an influence on the story.  A good set of characters could have really helped a story that doesn’t do much new in the scare department.

Conclusion:

“Tarot” is a perfectly average horror flick. It does not demand to be seen nor leave audiences upset with how they spent their money. It is one of those experiences where each person turns to the next and says, “That was…alright”. After that, the movie may drift away into a Netflix catalog of poorly reviewed horror movies. It is a tame Saturday night experience out with friends that won’t leave much of an impression. Experienced horror fans may roll their eyes at this one but the teenage demographic may have some fun with it. See it. Don’t see it. It won’t matter much either way.