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Tarot review: Fatal readings? F##$ fate! – Beyond Bollywood

Though genuine tarot card readers might not find the horror film amusing, Spencer Cohen and Anna Halberg’s story is intriguing and carries an important message.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️ (2 / 5)

By Mayur Lookhar

Do you believe in astrology? While you may not put much stock in it, there’s often a lingering curiosity whenever you have your palm / kundali (horoscope) read, or pick up tarot cards. Astrology has been regarded as a science by some and as pseudoscience by others, yet its enduring presence across cultures, particularly in India, spans centuries. Tarot decks, originating in the 15th century in Italy, have garnered a sizable following. Introduce a hint of horror into a tarot reading, and watch as many retract their palms in fear.

Tarot readers worldwide might not be amused, but author Nicholas Adams turned the deck on its head with his 1992 book, aptly titled Horrorscope. 32 years later, the book would inspire the writer-director duo Spencer Cohen and Anna Halberg to craft their own Tarot tale.

A group of friends – Haley, Grant, Paxton, Paige, Madeline, Lucas, and Elise – rent out a mansion in the Catskills for Elise’s birthday. There’s great camaraderie between most of them, but Haley and Grant’s recent break-up leads to some tense moments. Running low on booze, the friends stumble upon a closed room below, where they discover an ancient tarot deck. They request Haley to do the readings. As the night fades into day, they return to their mundane city lives. However, shortly afterward, a couple of tragedies strike, prompting Haley to suspect a correlation between the incidents and the tarot readings from the mansion.

Cohen and Halberg have an intriguing contemporary tale up their sleeves, woven with a haunting ancient backstory. However, Tarot disappoints largely in its screenplay and inconsistent performances. The screenplay appears rushed, with barely any thought given for the characters to grieve.

Harriet Slater. Source: Sony Pictures

For a skilled tarot reader, it’s surprising how Haley couldn’t envision the danger after the first tragedy. If she’s never encountered such a deck before, is Haley truly competent to read accurately? Besides, the bold text at the bottom of each card is self-explanatory. However, young Harriet Slater is likable as the gentle yet strong-willed Haley. She doesn’t allow the tension with Grant to break her apart, especially in such grave times.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with playing a cocky character, but Adain Bradley’s portrayal of Grant feels overly staged. As foretold in the reading, Paxton [Jacob Batalon] plays the fool to a tee, and as expected, isn’t funny.

Avantika Vandanapu. Source: Sony Pictures

The male leads come off as average, but it’s the female cast of Tarot that earns respect. Harriet Slater exudes a natural, mature demeanor fitting for a character wise beyond her years. Avantika Vandanapu, an American Indian actress who has also appeared in Telugu films, brings vibrant energy to her portrayal of Paige, the most spirited of the female characters. Paige authentically conveys fear and finds herself in the most precarious situation. However, the initial tragedy involving poor Elise [Larsen Thompson}, sends few shivers down the spine.

Halberg and Cohen fail to look beyond their seven protagonists, Ms. Astryn [Olwen Fouéré], who did readings from the ancient deck in 1978, and the evil spirit. You almost get a sense that in this world, there are no other normal beings.  While nine characters still form a substantial ensemble, the lackluster performances by the leading male cast and a middling screenplay leave audiences frustrated. Viewers may find themselves empathizing with the haunting backstory, even though it’s shrouded in darkness.

Tarot (2024) boasts a compelling narrative, but Cohen and Halberg miss the mark on creativity. Nevertheless, the film delivers a poignant message: while cards, kundalis (horoscopes), and the stars may not align in your favor, accepting their readings as fate invites only negativity. As Haley aptly puts it, ‘F**$ fate’. We can’t control death, but we can take the reins of our lives. After all, as the saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Distributed by Sony Pictures, Tarot has released in theatres worldwide from 3 May.

Watch the video review below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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