by Camela Thompson
I'm not sure how I feel about séances and mediums in the real world. It's a tough topic and something I choose not to participate in personally. However, a séance can add a lot to a scene in fiction, whether it be in a book or movie. I love when the events are fantastic and simultaneously believable, even if the séance is subsequently revealed as a fraud! Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.
This is a classic novel by one of my favorite authors, Richard Matheson. I've read most of Matheson's work and rarely run across something I don't enjoy. Hell House is disturbing, detailed, and my first run in with the author. The premise: Dr. Lionel Barrett is charged by the owner of a renowned haunted house to prove the existence of life after death. The doctor invites two mediums and runs several tests to validate the experiences that are recorded in the house.
This movie begins with an intelligent and logical woman exposing the fraudulent behavior of a medium during a séance. The protagonist is contacted by a concerned teacher at a private school in Cumbria, where she experiences several things she cannot explain.
If you don't like horror, you may still like this film. The movie has a healthy dose of suspense without being overly frightening. There's a medium and a great séance scene that includes automatic writing.
I enjoyed the first two movies in the Insidious franchise, but I haven't seen the third yet. While a certain haunting force in the first movie is a little hokey, I really enjoyed Lin Shaye's performance. The séance scenes have some original twists that are very entertaining.
If you don't remember the séance scene, Youtube it. It's hilarious.
The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson is another horror great, and I highly recommend the book. She does a fantastic job with character development. I particularly enjoyed the militant Mrs. Montague and her cohort Arthur Parker. Despite Dr. Montague's insistence on keeping up a scientific air, Mrs. Montague's interest in Spiritualism brings about well meaning but unproductive séances.
I don't mean the series of short movies. I mean the object. This board has catapulted many, many movies from suspicious paranormal activity to full bore demonic hauntings. Paranormal Activity, The Exorcist, The Ouija Experiment, What Lies Beneath, The Pact.. I could go on. There's even a website dedicated to movies featuring the ouija board.
Do you have a favorite? What do you think makes a good séance scene?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.