According to Simon Barrett, although he gained a great deal of notoriety as a genre-oriented screenwriter, he’s always seen himself as a director who fell into writing thanks to a long-running partnership with director Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs. Kong). With Barrett as writer and Wingard as director, the pair have made a half-dozen films since 2010, including A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next, The Guest, and the 2016 Blair Witch reboot (the two are actively working on both a direct sequel to Face/Off and a film based on the classic ’80s animated series ThunderCats).

While Barrett has dabbled in directing over the years — most notably the “Tape 49” segment of horror anthology V/H/S/2 — Seance marks his debut as a feature director. The film is set at a prestigious girls boarding school where one student dies shortly after a prank seance ritual, which may have actually awoken a dead former student who reportedly haunts the halls of the academy. Shortly after the tragedy, a new student arrives, Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse), who is immediately tormented by the school’s mean-girl pranksters. But Camille has a secret agenda, fearlessness, and certain abilities that make her capable of defending herself from bullies, would-be killers, and possible ghosts. Rich with atmosphere and dripping in blood, Seance is a present-day story, but one with its roots planted firmly in the rich, decades-old tradition of horror films set in elite girls’ schools.

/Film spoke with Barrett to discuss his influences for Seance, his partnership with Wingard, and his idea for an NC-17-rated, Ewoks-centric Star Wars movie.

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