Suki Waterhouse and Other 20-Somethings Play Teenagers in Horror Movie ‘Seance’ for an Important Reason

Suki Waterhouse stars in the new horror movie Seance. Waterhouse plays Camille Meadows, a transferring senior at an elite boarding school. There’s an opening because another student fell out her dorm window and died. The surviving classmates still decide to terrorize Camille, but a supernatural force may be coming for all of them. 

Seance star Suki Waterhouse walks on campus
Suki Waterhouse | RLJE Films and Shudder

Seance writer/director Simon Barrett spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone on May 10. Barrett explained why the 29-year-old Waterhouse and co-stars Inanna Sarkis, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith, Stephanie Sy, Jade Michael and Djouliet Amara were ideal for his horror film. Seance is now playing in theaters and available on VOD.

Suki Waterhouse playing a high schooler made this horror movie more palatable 

There is a long tradition of actors in their 20s playing high school students, in horror movies, comedies and TV shows. Barrett thought Waterhouse and her co-stars were perfect.

Seance cast sits in the headmistress's office
Top L-R: Ella-Rae Smith, Suki Waterhouse Bottom L-R: Djouliet Amara, Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis and Stephanie Sy | RLJE Films and Shudder

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“I kind of intentionally wanted to cast actors in their 20s to play characters who are supposed to be 18 or so,” Barrett said. “For me, I was more just worried that if I actually cast younger actors as younger characters it wouldn’t be as much fun watching them murder one another than if it felt like you had a bit more of the movie world humor to it, approaching it more like a traditional film in terms of the casting and staging.”

There’s also a history of prank horror movies before ‘Seance’

In Seance, Alice (Sarkis) leads the prank that leads to Kerrie (Megan Best)’s death. That doesn’t deter Alice or her friends when Camille gets to school. Barrett cited the history of horror films in which the audience never knows if it’s a real murder or a fakeout: Pledge Night, House on Sorority Row, The Initiation and Terror Train among others.

It’s a very common thing in these films that the characters are always trying to trick each other and because of these hormone fueled irresponsible hijinks makes it harder ot tell the real pranks from the killers’ innovative homicidal misdeeds and so on. It allows you to set up a bunch of great suspenseful dynamics where the characters, for example, walk into a room that is clearly a scary bad place to be and for some reason don’t leave right away. Well, it’s because they think they’re being pranked. I do enjoy that. I think it’s really fun to work in a realm where the characters are all lying to one another. It gives you the dynamic of being able to buy that people would be a bit more cynical about what they’re seeing than maybe they would otherwise.”

Simon Barrett, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 5/10/21

If the girls in ‘Seance’ applied themselves they wouldn’t need to resort to murder

Alice and her crew have the trappings of the theater department at their disposal. If they applied themselvves, they might have fruitful careers, but all they care about is scaring Camille.

“I like the idea that the girls in Seance are so bored that they borderline become fairly innovative performance artists in terms of some of the work they’re staging,” Barrett said. “Obviously, if you look at the 80s slasher film April Fool’s Day, that entire film is like wait, if you all were this talented at staging something like this, shouldn’t you be in theater? You’re so good at staging pranks, it really seems like you should have a job on Broadway, or at the very least, the Magic Castle or Disneyland or something. Of course, it’s a movie so you can buy a certain amount of comedic license there.”

Horror movie mean girls of Seance in the dorm hall
L-R: Madisen Beaty, Inanna Sarkis, Ella-Rae Smith, Djouliet Amara, Suki Waterhouse, and Stephanie Sy |RLJE Films and Shudder

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Camille is just fresh meat for Alice and her gang.

“With Seance I did think it was integral to the setting and atmosphere that you got the vibe that the main characters are so bored and annoyed as their default state of being at this kind of sequestered school that they’ve all ended up at for one reason or another that as soon as a new student comes in, they’re just like, ‘Oh, thank God, someone who hasn’t seen all our pranks yet.’ I kind of buy that both in terms of the setting but I also think that’s a fun thing to say about your characters is that they’re the kind of people that are capable of boredom and innovative solutions to boredom.”