In a nondescript house in London, a medium named Myra (Stanley) is quietly going mad. More frightening still is that her submissive husband Billy (Attenborough) won’t acknowledge it. At Myra’s direction, Billy kidnaps a young girl and isolates her, blindfolded, in an interior room. The plan is that they’ll collect the ransom, and then Myra will throw off suspicion by using her extra-sensory powers to help the parents locate the child. Things don’t quite turn out as planned.
Young writer-director Bryan Forbes fashions a dandy psychological thriller that works its dread gradually, like a car accident seen in slow motion. American actress Stanley (who worked more on stage than in film) is a marvel in an Oscar-nominated turn, but Attenborough is every bit as impressive in the tricky, thankless role of Billy. Even the film’s somewhat deliberate pacing can’t manage to undermine the pervasive eeriness of it all. No doubt about it: this “Séance” is sure to make your skin crawl.