Tarot review: "A predictable and tame take on Final Destination"

Tarot (2024)
(Image: © Sony)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Predictable death-ination flick makes decent use of its monster design and spiritual themes, but lacks in creativity. While it may prove a good gateway horror for some, more experienced genre fans will likely wish it was a bit nastier

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Tarot may be the first-ever horror movie to center fully on those inherently creepy cards, but every genre fan knows it's hardly the first to play with ideas of death and fate. 

While the Final Destination series delights gorehounds by offering up grisly, imaginative ways to off its characters (almost 20 years on from part three, tanning beds are still terrifying), Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg's outing, which takes inspiration from Nicholas Adams' 1992 novel Horrorscope, opts for a tamer, less bloody approach, with mixed results.

The set-up is simple: Boston-based students rent out a remote mansion in the Catskills to celebrate one of their pal's birthdays and, after running out of beers, search the place for more booze. In the basement, they stumble on a huge collection of astrological tools and some old tarot cards. When the pals urge the conveniently spiritual Haley (Harriet Slater) to read their fortunes using the deck, she protests, "It's super bad luck to use someone else's." You can say that again…

Almost immediately, the youngsters start getting killed in ways related to the readings, which disappointingly robs the death scenes of any tension and sense of surprise. The outcome said you'll be delivered a crushing blow? Ah. Dealt the Hanged Man? Well… Ironically, it's all rather predictable – and makes for some seriously stiff dialogue as well.

Set to a great score by Joseph Bishara (Insidious, The Conjuring), Tarot works better as a mystery than a horror, as the characters – all rather bland, except for Jacob Batalon's comic relief Paxton – try to figure out why this is happening to them. Flashing back to the 1700s to explore history's changing attitudes to those who can "see the future", the movie invests its cursed cards with some intriguing lore – there's just not enough time spent on it. 

Still, first-time directors Cohen and Halberg make full use of tarot's iconography to create a Rolodex of monsters that haunt the protagonists throughout. Each of them, from the jingling, jerky Fool to the rotting Hermit, is genuinely chilling and wouldn't look out of place in a higher-budgeted James Wan joint. In real-life tarot, the visuals tell the story. Shame, then, that in the movie, the script doesn't do as good a job. 

Tarot is in UK cinemas and US theaters on May 3. 

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.