The Movie Waffler First Look Review - QUEEN OF SPADES | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - QUEEN OF SPADES

queen of spades review
A group of teens unleash a malevolent Russian demon.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Patrick White

Starring: Ava Preston, Kaelen Ohm, Daniel Kash, Jamie Bloch, Eric Osborne

queen of spades poster

"Beware of the Queen of Spades, her black widow's curse might find you yet."

So sang hair-rockers Styx on their 1978 track 'Queen of Spades''. Director Patrick White's Queen of Spades isn't a movie adaptation of that power ballad, but it might as well be. Rather it's a Canadian remake of a 2015 Russian movie, Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite.

queen of spades review

The Russian folklore figure of the Queen of Spades has its roots in an 1833 short story by Alexander Pushkin, was subsequently turned into an opera by Tchaikovsky and has since evolved into an urban legend along the lines of 'Bloody Mary'.

White's film reduces the Queen of Spades to a third-rate Candyman knockoff, a demon who appears by reciting a rite ("Queen of Spades, show yourself") while holding a candle in front of a mirror.

Four generic Ottawa teens are clued into the lore when they witness the apparent suicide of a boy who jumps to his death from a roof. Before he dies he mutters the words "Queen of Spades!" Unperturbed by what they've witnessed, the gang look into the lore and decide to perform the rite. At first it seems to have taken no effect, but the next day one of them finds a mysterious bloody gash on his arm before succumbing to a heart attack.

queen of spades review

When Mary (Kaelen Ohm), the single mother of one of the teens, learns about the rite, she contacts Russian supernatural expert Smirnov (Daniel Kash), who penned a book about the lore, in the hopes that he can prevent the Queen from claiming any further victims.

Queen of Spades is as lacklustre as low-budget horror gets. Sure, its premise is far from original but there's no reason it shouldn't make for an enjoyable supernatural thriller. This could have been a cousin of Final Destination, with the Queen's marked victims dying one-by-one in inventively grisly deaths, but White completely fails to deliver on this promise. The deaths are unremarkable and the movie plays everything so straight that it often becomes unintentionally laughable when it introduces more outrageous elements, such as when the Russian exorcist clone attempts to transfer the demonic spirit of the Queen into a tabby cat. The titular demon is lazily designed, a bland mish-mash of the Woman in Black and the lank-haired demons of J-Horror.

queen of spades review

Aside from Ohm, who gives a performance worthy of a far better movie, everyone seems utterly disinterested here. The teens never seem anywhere near as troubled as they should, reacting in glib fashion every time they witness some fresh horror. It's a response that's not entirely dissimilar to anyone who decides to watch Queen of Spades.

Queen of Spades is on US/Canadian VOD from June 15th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2021 movie reviews