Seances are bad ideas, people.

Seances are bad ideas, people. Ouija boards, tarot cards, black candles, mediums, these things never work out the way that you had hoped. This is a lesson that we should have learned long ago. Somehow, though, the people in horror movies keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  Holding a séance is a classic blunder, right up there with attempting so solve an ancient puzzle box or reciting Candyman’s name into a mirror.

The people in Agramon’s Gate, the new film from Harley Wallen (see our review of another of Wallen’s film here) don’t know this.  At the start of the film Richie and Cassidy, a married couple played by Kris Reilly and Kaiti Wallen, hold a party. One of the guests is a medium named Vesna (Aphrodite Nikolovski). Another party guest asks her if it is possible to contact a dead relative and the next thing anyone knows that are all taking part in a séance. Like I said: bad idea, folks.  Something evil gets a foothold in our world via the séance and Vesna goes to a mystic named Zeb for help. Zeb is played by the director, Harley Wallen. Zeb has scars on his face and a battle weary countenance that suggests that he has spent a lifetime dealing with this sort of trouble.

The party goers individually start facing hauntings and strange paranormal events.  Tension and fear build slowly, driving them toward the brink. Eventually we are brought to understand that something in Richie’s past is to blame for all of it.

There is a mystery element that plays as counterpoint to the horror. Wallen does a good job creating a sense of paranoia and a mounting fear that starts to pervade every scene.  Characters are rightfully confused and terrified by the inexplicable events that they witness.

The acting is solid throughout. There are no big names to speak of, but everyone seems to take the job seriously. There’s no winking or side-eye in any of the performances.  

Most of the special FX are practical. I am a big fan of practical FX whenever possible. There is a tactile weight created by having an actual physical object on set that can never really be matched by a computer animation. Even a cheap physical effect has a psychological effect on the viewer that CGI can never accomplish.  A great example of this divide can be seen by comparing the FX in John Carpenter’s The Thing to the FX in the relatively recent prequel The Thing. Carpenter’s nearly forty-year old film’s FX look newer, better and more realistic than the CGI concoctions of the 2011 version. 

Tangent over.

There is a bit of CGI in Agramon’s Gate, but not so much as to overwhelm the practical FX and that is a good thing.

Agramon’s Gate is another solid entry in the cannon of supernatural horror.  Harley Wallen has once again revealed himself as a director whose work you should be seeking out.