Queen of Spades Movie Review

Written by Sean M. Sanford

Released by DREAD

queen of spades poster large

Directed by Patrick White
John Ainslie (screenplay) and Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy (original story)
2021, 91 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 15th, 2021

Ava Preston as Anna
Kaelen Ohm as Mary
Jamie Bloch as Katy
Eric Osborne as Sebastian
Nabil Rajo as Matthew
Krista Marchand as Queen of Spades
Daniel Kash as Smirnov

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Did you ever chant into a dark bathroom mirror when you were a kid? Try to see if you can referee a demon royale between Bloody Mary and Candyman? Queen of Spades speaks of a comparable run-through: a reflective entity who embodies your deepest fears. Said queen, of Russian folklore, is apt to torque your waking consciousness by day, while supplying Olympic-grade nightmares by night, all to advocate the latter when choosing between life and death.

Queen of Spades demonstrates with gusto that she ain’t nothing to fuck with when four Ontario teens witness one of her liquidations. After said second-hand experience, each falls prey to a dark curiosity that promises right off to do more than simply kill the Cat.

Anna hangs around Katie, a girl who lives in Anna’s building. Katie’s two friends, Seb and Matt, often join the girls as they sit around the apartment’s common area and swap teenaged profundities. After seeing someone in a profound(ly deadly) mental state, it’s Matt who first introduces them to the possible cause: a Russian entity, a fable, a myth, the Queen of Spades. This queen can either grant you a single wish, or drag you through the halls of torment until you die, depending on her mood that day. All she asks is you stand in front of a creepy-ass mirror, draw a door with its staircase on the glass in lipstick (blood would also likely suffice), and utter her moniker three times.

Well, the foursome is quick to learn that not only is such a queen real, but she happens to be in a pretty dang murder-y mood these days. Thus begins a barrage of terror, complete with mind-numbing visions, and prayers for survival.

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This movie does a great job coupling a petrifying folktale with the mystery and general chaos of growing up, when a mirror can often be the source of many sorrows. I distinctly recall my own distaste for reflections in general when I was 13. Every so often I’d glance into a mirror and feel like I was looking at an artist’s rendition of myself that was just a little bit goofier-looking than I remembered. I’m not comparing my own distaste for the mists of puberty to Anna’s fight for survival, but I could sense a few parallels.

For example, Anna is a 13-year-old girl whose father is nowhere to be found; her mother, Mary, is regularly having to bust her hump to put food on the table and is rarely at home. Anna wants nothing more than to be able to spend more time with her mom, and the feeling is mutual, but the situation simply won’t allow it. Anna is most often alone, with little more than her own reflection at a time in life when one’s own self-image can feel like their worst enemy. This is one of the ways in which Queen of Spades personifies some of life’s natural horrors; it also illustrates the unease brought about by all the side-eye shadows that startle us when we’re young. Up to and including the occasional fear of stupid freakin mirrors.

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Ava Preston does an incredible job showing Anna’s burden through not only the depth of her silence, but her air of defeat. She wears a distinct frustration when she talks to her mother, and a subtle disinterest when spending time with those who appear to be her only friends.

Kaelen Ohm also brings depth to the relationship with her role as Anna’s mother. She holds a threadbare ambiance in having every option stacked against her and wanting nothing more than to re-establish a connection with her only child.

Although the general plotline holds little originality, Queen of Spades does a wonderful job bringing layers and depth to its characters and the story they tell. The movie unfolds in such a way that every single scene is crucial, and just about every moment feels like it's teetering on the brink of disaster. I recommend watching this movie after you already brushed your teeth in that dark-ass bathroom at the end of the hall.

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Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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