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Bob Hoose

Movie Review

Spending a weekend away to celebrate Elise’s birthday seemed like a pretty great idea, everybody in the group of seven twentysomething friends readily agrees.

Sure, it’s a bit awkward for Haley and Grant, since it inevitably comes out that they just broke up. But all in all, there’s still lots of boozing, romping and laughing to be done in an isolated B&B somewhere in the Catskills. So, it’s all good, they think.

However, when the beer runs out during a campfire drinking game, the gang is kinda at a loss. They’re out in the middle of nowhere, and driving to get more alcohol would take up too much of their last night together.

So, they decide to really scour the big-old estate they’re renting in search of something drinkable. There’s gotta be some kind of booze stashed in some room, pantry or cubby hole, right? And one locked door appears promising. So, they break it open.

Instead of a booze stash, however, they find a basement packed with old astrology and occult collectables. Thereafter, the need for another intoxicant is quickly forgotten. This junk promises to give them a different kind of buzz.

When Haley finds an ancient box holding an incredibly creepy set of hand-painted Tarot cards, the evenings’ activity is settled. It just so happens that Haley has done lots of Tarot readings in the past. So the gang gathers ‘round, and they jump right in.

Haley is quite skilled at the task before her. The crackling fireplace atmosphere is perfect. And the cards, oh my word, those creepy looking cards add just the right chill to the proceedings.

The High Priestess, the Magician, the Devil, Death: All of those key characters look like they could step right off the cards and into your nightmares. And they weave wonderfully into Haley’s readings, capping the weekend celebration with a last night ghoulish flourish.

The gang gets up the next morning without a care in the world. They pack their bags, jump in their cars and set off for the trip home.

But you know what they say about Tarot readings? Everything is open to interpretation. The dealt-out cards can have different meanings. The Death card, for instance, can mean “a new beginning” in some cases.

In this case, though, Death means death.

And all those other characters cards … follow suit.

Positive Elements

Once bad things start happening, the surviving friends gather to help protect one another. And in a few cases, they put their own life in jeopardy in an effort to save a friend.

Spiritual Elements

If you tip your head just the right way, you could see this film as a cautionary tale warning against dabbling with dark spirits and foul, deadly things. There are no direct biblical references made or Scriptures read, but the film definitely suggests that messing with the stuff of fortune-telling and curses won’t end well.

In that light, we learn of a curse that’s attached to the cards and a spectral entity that enables the cards’ characters (the Priestess, the Magician, etc.) to kill the movie’s central characters. These card characters have magical abilities and gruesome, blood-drooling appearances. A child murder, a blood sacrifice ritual and a suicide are all part of that initial curse, we learn.

We also learn that the Tarot cards and their curse have been central to at least four other group murders (and likely, many more) since the curse began in 1798. Each of Haley’s friends who die does so in ways related to the Tarot reading she gave them.

Haley also tells a story of trying to get a different Tarot reading for her mother when she was deathly ill. But each reading indicated death. “You can’t change fate,” the young woman declares. Haley and another woman attempt a ritual later in the film.

Sexual Content

We see Elise taking a bath. (Only her bare knee, shoulders and head are visible.) Then she steps out of the bathroom covered in a robe.

Violent Content

The central characters endure pummeling, pounding violence in this film. But most of the flesh-rending, gruesome stuff is kept just off-camera and punctuated by large splashes of blood.

For instance, we see a woman commit suicide by slashing her own throat, but we see it in silhouette. Someone is pounded numerous times by a falling ladder while she screams. The killing blow results in a splash of gore, but we don’t see the wound. A woman gets sawn in half in a stage show, before a cheering crowd. We see her screaming and writhing in a confining box, but don’t see the saw cut through her flesh.

A man is hit by a rushing subway car; but again we don’t see it hit, just the widow-spattering aftermath. A woman has a rope wrapped around her neck, and she struggles while being hung by the neck. Someone is impaled by a half-dozen swords. A woman is caught up in a swirling storm of wind and debris that flails the skin and flesh from her body. Someone is knocked to the ground and dragged toward a hellish blaze of a fire (before escaping).

A few people are hoisted off the floor by their neck. Creatures screech and leap at the camera with razor-sharp teeth. A dead man drifts in a tub of water (his lower extremities obsured by a towel-like covering). Someone’s head smashes a car window. Someone bleeds from her nose and eyes during a ritual.

Crude or Profane Language

The movie dialogue contains one f-word, 15 s-words and more than a half-dozen uses of “h—.”  God’s name is misused 10 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We see the friends drinking around a campfire and glimpse the huge bag full of booze bottles and cans that they’ve emptied over the weekend. Paxton smokes a vape pen. (And at one point, his reaction could indicate that he’s been puffing something other than nicotine.)

Other Negative Elements

As mentioned above, the gathered friends break the lock on a door with a posted “Do Not Enter” sign on it. Haley’s friend Paxton asks if they should perhaps seek help from others, such as their parents. And the others jeer at him: “What are you, 12?”


The Bible contains many a warning about the woes and painful outcomes that beset people who turn to the occult and divination. Interestingly enough, Tarot kicks its dark, spirit-world tale off with a very similar admonition.

Better not, the film proclaims. Won’t end well, it warns.

Then this cast of attractive young twentysomethings use about .05% of their booze-addled intellect to dive into Tarot readings anyway … and die in woeful, painful ways.

OK, none of that is any big spoiler.

So, you’re likely here to see if this popcorn-muncher is any good. Or how messy it gets.

I can say that it’s predictably creepy feeling and foul mouthed. It splashes blood about predictably in throat slashing, body rending, blunt force ways—without crossing into hack-and-slash gruesome territory. And its creative twists are, well, not all that creative. It’s not really funny or particularly involving. In fact, the film feels incredibly derivative of a whole bunch of other second tier, Final Destination-like pics that have come before it.

And I would predict that most of you saw all of that coming, even without a deck of cards.

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Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.