(director/writer: Spenser Cohen, Anna Halberg; screenwriter:based on the novel Horrorscope by Nicholas Adams; cinematographer: Elie Smolkin; editor: Tom Elkins; music: Joseph Bishara; cast: Adain Bradley (Grant), Harriet Slater (Haley), Jacob Batalon (Paxton), Larsen Thompson (Elise), Ayantika Vandanapu (Paige), Humberly Gonzalez (Madeline), Wolfgang Novogratz (Lucas), Suncica Milanovic (astrologer), Olwen Fouere (Ms. Alma Astryn), Anna Halberg (Wells); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Leslie Morgenstein, Scott Glassgold, Elysa Koplovitz Dutton; Screen Gems/Sony Pictures; 2024)

“Seeing the kills, being more suspenseful, having a better script, and having less jump scares would have helped it be more watchable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Co-directors and writers Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg make their directorial debuts with this heavily cliched and bland supernatural thriller. It’s based on the 1992 YA horror novel Horrorscope by Nicholas Adams, but the filmmakers alter the book’s plot.

Films such as the Final Destination (2000) from some twenty years ago have influenced it.

The story involves wise-acre motor-mouth Paxton (Jacob Batalon), a college student who rents a remote mansion in NY’s Catskills for some college friends-Lucas (Wolfgang Novogratz), Paige (Avantika, Indian actress), Grant ((Adain Bradley and Madeline-Humberly Gonzalez)-to celebrate the birthday party of Elise (Larsen Thompson). While prowling around the house for liquor the kids find in the musty basement a dusty tarot deck locked-up in a room that has a “KEEP OUT” sign on it. They are advised by an amateur astrology student, Haley (Harriet Slater, Brit actress), to not use that deck, which originated in Hungary in the 18 century, for its readings because it might be cursed, but Elise gives them her blessings. Fortunes from those with the cards of The Fool, The Magician, and The High Priestess are read by Haley, and this causes the next day the death off-screen of one of the players exactly as predicted by the cards, which is followed by deaths from the others who had readings.

The frightened remaining students fearing for their lives seek out an occult expert, the elderly Ms. Astryn (Olwen Fouéré, an Irish stage actress), who informs them that they must break the curse that’s been placed on them by the Tarot or die.

Seeing the kills, being more suspenseful, having a better script, and having less jump scares would have helped it be more watchable.

REVIEWED ON 5/22/2024  GRADE: C+