An ancient Russian folk tale tells of a horrifying entity that you can summon by speaking to her through a mirror. If she is at peace when she is summoned, she grants you a wish. If she is not at peace, she proceeds to take down each person involved in her summoning, one by one, with more horrific circumstances – before finally inhabiting the person who spoke the summoning incantation. Somewhere between an internet icon and a fantastic legend, the Queen of Spades has found new popularity once again. When four teenagers are witness to a horrible accident where her name is mentioned, they choose to summon her – as much as an internet prank in hopes of going viral.

Anna (Ava Preston) is the youngest of the group, and according to the legend must summon the Queen. As she says the incantation and makes her wish, Matthew (Nabil Rajo) jumps from the closet and frightens her, and their friend Katy (Jamie Bloch), while Sebastian (Eric Osborne) films. Shaking it off as a stupid prank, everyone goes back to their individual apartments and calls it a night. They soon realize, however, that the incantation did work – the Queen was summoned – and she won’t stop until she takes them out – one by one.

Classic horror thrills hide in every mirror and around every corner in QUEEN OF SPADES. The original short story, by Alexander Pushkin, was published in 1834, and finds new and exciting life in 2021, neatly and succinctly translating into the modern, internet based, “viral” crazed present. Sebastian anxiously reaches out to Smirnov (Daniel Kash) who wrote a book about the Queen after his son was killed – repeatedly video calling and messaging him. Present day connectivity, for once, plays a key role and is a major component. In a world where horror so often doesn’t “work” with modern conveniences, this one plays perfectly.

The imagery is nothing new – though it’s satisfyingly spooky. Pulling equally from modern classics from Blumhouse and the creepiest of folk tale imagery, The Queen herself is somewhere between the Woman in Black and Bride in Black, a gauzy, pale mess of streaming tears and sharp fingernails. It’s effective – it works. The gore and effects are middle of the road, not too much, not shown in too much detail, and play perfectly. The drama, albeit expected and sometimes contrived, portrays teen angst in a very comfortable, not too over the top way. Performances are solid all around, and Preston is a powerhouse.

QUEEN OF SPADES is one of those films that comes along and just simply satisfies. It may not be groundbreaking, or terrifically unique. However, it’s exactly what you hope for when you see the title and the poster. Without a doubt teens will try to summon the Queen at their next sleepover… same as it ever was. It’s a perfect popcorn movie that’ll have you looking twice when you walk by a mirror.

7/10 stars

Queen of Spades
RATING:R
Runtime:1 Hr. 31 Mins.
Directed By:
Patrick White
Written By:
John Ainslie

About the Author: Miranda Riddle

Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.