Thin Characters & Intermittent Frights Make For A Dull Horror Movie Experience


  • Tarot features a group of college friends fighting against fateful tarot card predictions before time runs out.
  • Some inventive kills are present in Tarot, but the scares wear thin due to a lack of surprises and easily predictable scares.
  • Despite some clever moments and a solidly clever ending, Tarot falls flat due to thin character development, dull plot, and lack of major scares.

At first glance, the premise for the new horror film Tarot, from directors Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg, reads like a combination of tropes derived from other movies in the genre. A group of friends indulge in a familiar game/ritual (Ouija, Truth or Dare) and soon find themselves getting picked off one by one, unable to avoid their fate (Final Destination). Of course, when it comes to horror, sometimes originality isn’t necessary; what’s key are the scares, and how everything unfolds. Unfortunately, Tarot falls flat in the former category, and the latter isn’t particularly engaging.

The plot centers on a group of college friends who start dying in ways that are related to their fortunes after having their tarot cards read. Before their time runs out, they have to work together to uncover the mystery.


  • Tarot’s monsters and kills are creative

  • The film isn’t genuinely scary at all
  • The characters are extremely one-dimensional
  • The dialogue is poor and awkward

The concept of a scary movie revolving around tarot cards isn’t a bad one, and Cohen and Halberg do get in some clever moments. There are just too many elements that ultimately hinder Tarot‘s execution. It all begins with a group of college students enjoying a weekend away at a creepy old mansion to celebrate one of their birthdays. There are seven main characters in total, and very few of them are given enough development to stand out.


Where To Watch Tarot: Showtimes & Streaming Status

A new horror movie has arrived, and there are different options for where to watch Tarot by using theatrical showtimes or at home on streaming.

Tarot’s Biggest Weakness Lies In Its Characters

While poking around the musty, creaky mansion, the group discovers a set of old tarot cards, each emblazoned with a disturbing illustration. Haley (Harriet Slater), with the ability to actually read the cards, is reluctant to do anything with them; it’s a sacred rule that one must not use another person’s tarot cards. However, birthday girl Elise (Larsen Thompson) insists on it, and so Haley gives everyone a reading based on their horoscope. Haley’s zodiac-based summaries of each of her friends are, in most cases, the only real depth these characters will receive, which sets Tarot on a bad path.

Haley’s predictions for the group are innocuous enough, but it doesn’t take long for them to go awry. Each person is now fated to die in a way tied to their reading; for example, one unlucky soul is described as climbing the ladder of success, and they’re later impaled repeatedly with a ladder.

Tarot shows brief signs of promise, of originality, but it is swallowed up by thin characterizations, a dull plot, and a lack of major scares.

If we are meant to mourn these characters as they gradually meet their grisly ends, Tarot doesn’t do the best job of showing it. Without real personalities or meaningful relationships (two of the friends are dating, but we can only tell based on the fact that they sit pressed up against each other), there’s nothing for us to grasp onto and care about.

Within the ensemble, Haley stands as the most defined character thanks to her position as the resident tarot reader and the fact that she actually has a backstory. Her ex-boyfriend Grant (Adain Bradley) also gets a little bit more to do because of that failed relationship, and MCU alum Jacob Batalon does all the work to give his character Paxton some actual dimension. Beyond that, Tarot doesn’t do much to convince us about these characters and their connections, with awkward — and, at times, poorly delivered — dialogue and interactions filling in the spaces between kills.

Tarot (2024)


Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg

Release Date

May 3, 2024


Screen Gems
, Alloy Entertainment
, Ground Control


Sony Pictures Releasing


Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg


Harriet Slater
, Jacob Batalon
, Avantika Vandanapu
, Adain Bradley
, Humberly González
, Olwen Fouéré
, Wolfgang Novogratz
, Larsen Thompson


92 minutes

Tarot Does Have Some Inventive Kills, But The Scares Wear Thin

Tarot does get some wins when it comes to its monsters and kills. Each character is haunted by the specific tarot personality that landed at the center of their reading, which grants the opportunity for creative costuming and makeup. My personal favorite is The Fool, who, in addition to looking genuinely creepy, makes the most of the space it inhabits in a way that is both unsettling and strangely humorous. Had Tarot leaned into the campiness of that one moment, it might’ve been a more exciting watch.

When it comes to the kills and gore, the movie is somewhat limited by its PG-13 rating, but there are still some standouts. The aforementioned ladder kill is unique, and one death late in the movie (which I won’t go into too much detail about, since it could be considered a spoiler) actually evoked a feeling of dread and horror within me. It helps that the victim puts on an excellent performance in their final moments.

Outside of jump scares and unsettling deaths, though, Tarot doesn’t offer much by way of frights.

Outside of jump scares and unsettling deaths, though, Tarot doesn’t offer much by way of frights. I’m someone who admittedly jumps very easily, but even I couldn’t muster a significant startle. The scares are easy to predict, telegraphed well ahead of time, and with the movie settling into a rhythm with each death, there are no surprises. The group does take a slight detour to speak with an expert in tarot readings (Olwen Fouéré) that leads to an eerie flashback exploring the origins of the cards. It allows for some intrigue, but only marginally.

Tarot‘s ending, which I thought was solidly clever, is further undone by a last minute twist that makes very little sense. The movie attempts to explain it, but the explanation almost cheapens everything else that came before. Tarot shows brief signs of promise, of originality, but it is swallowed up by thin characterizations, a dull plot, and a lack of major scares. This is one set of cards that can be kept firmly in its clearly haunted box.

Tarot is now playing in theaters. It is 92 minutes long and rated PG-13 for horror violence, terror, bloody images, some strong language and drug content.

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