Critics Have Seen Tarot, And They Don’t See Good Things For The Horror Flick’s Future

 Avantika and Larsen Thompson's characters sit next to each other in a candlelit room in a scene from the movie Tarot.
Avantika and Larsen Thompson's characters sit next to each other in a candlelit room in a scene from the movie Tarot.

There’s no need to wait for Halloween to enjoy some spooky times at the theater. In addition to recent titles like Abigail and The First Omen, there are plenty of upcoming horror movies, including Tarot, which is set for release on May 3. The film — previously titled the much-more interesting Horrorscope — is based on a 1992 novel by Nicholas Adams, and critics don’t seem to think a spot on the list of best horror movies of all time is in its future.

Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: No Way Home), Avantika (Mean Girls), Harriet Slater, Alana Boden and more star as a group of college friends who give themselves tarot readings despite being warned not to do so. Then the killings start, with each death relating to the fortunes they received from the mysterious deck of cards. Emma Kiely of Collider says that while the characters are too one-dimensional to make audiences care about their fate, Tarot should be commended for being as scary as it is with a PG-13 rating. Kiely gives it a 6 out of 10, writing:

Tarot is a pretty forgettable horror movie. Dull characters, a basic plot, and very little to say with its themes render it a fairly unmemorable experience. However, what it can and should be commended for is showing how to scare within the constraints of the PG-13 rating. Some of its sequences are among the most frightening scenes in a PG-13 horror movie of recent years (we're not at The Ring's level but we are definitely higher than Five Nights at Freddy's). This alone is enough to warrant a recommendation.

Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting gives it 2.5 skulls out of 5, also noting that its plot and characters remain surface-level. However, it’s a fine option for gateway horror and is a perfect option for sleepovers. The critic says:

Seasoned horror fans will pick up on the influences and note the parallels between Tarot and Insidious in a key scene featuring an original song by composer Joseph Bishara (Insidious), making it even easier to predict the outcome. That the scares are more geared toward a younger audience won’t help either. Still, Tarot has just enough polish and monster fun to make for a straightforward, inoffensive, and easy foothold into the genre.

Jason Pirodsky of The Prague Reporter says that if the plot was going to be as predictable as this, the writers/directors could have at least gotten silly enough to push it to good bad movie territory. Pirodsky rates it 1.5 stars out of 4, giving the effects team some love by saying:

The saving grace keeping Tarot from the bottom of this horror barrel is the novelty of the tarot cards themselves, which are nicely illustrated and lead to some briefly appealing creatures. Despite working with a script that couldn’t have inspired much confidence, the effects team, at least, gives this movie more effort than it deserves.

Jasmine Valentine of Dexerto gives Tarot a similarly dismal 1 out of 5 stars, calling it “one of the worst films of the year so far.” The story is poorly conceived and badly written with unsatisfying kill scenes and ineffective jumpscares. Valentine continues:

Arguably, the best horrors have enough narrative rope to follow, but there’s still enough held back to keep you guessing. In Tarot, everything from impending death to clues that drive the story forward is painfully spelled out, almost as if the viewer is watching a radio play instead of an innovative feature. This isn’t helped by the crushing use of generational stereotyping, although this is also the only glue that holds the film together. The entire chain of events springboards from Hailey’s (Harriet Slater) love of tarot, with the entire basement of their rental mansion coincidentally happening to be kitted out with a collector’s stash of astrological goodies.

Glenn Cochrane of STACK magazine, meanwhile, finds plenty to like about the movie, saying writer/directors Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg have enough tricks up their sleeves to give audiences a fresh take on a tried-and-true horror formula. Cochrane says:

Tarot could be described as a mix of Final Destination and The Conjuring, with a dash of Drag Me to Hell. It relies on tone and atmosphere to deliver the horror. While the monsters are certainly gnarly looking and mean, it's the suspense and the overall creepiness that bring the story home.

If gateway horror is what you need this weekend, Tarot might be just what the fortune teller ordered. A couple of the critics reported some frightening moments, tension and jumpscares. However, it sounds like the plot and characters are underbaked, leading to mostly underwhelming assessments. Feel free to draw your own conclusions, as you can catch this film in theaters starting on Friday, May 3, and be sure to check out our 2024 movie release calendar to see what else is coming soon!