Tarot Is Gen Z’s Final Destination, Only With More Mysticism

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Aries Sun, Scorpio Moon, Sagittarius Rising. More likely than not, if you were born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, you’d understand the significance of that first sentence to at least a basic degree. The idea of the stars, fate, manifestation, and tarot, has been integrated so deeply into current pop culture that astrology has become a norm to most.  As such, Tarot takes that familiarity, ups the ante, and makes a nightmare out of things many take comfort in — because no one deserves peace, not even the astrology girlies apparently.

The film follows a group of seven college friends who spend a weekend in big old Airbnb mansion for one of their birthdays. After their resident astrology buff, Haley, reads their horoscope with the help of a deck of very creepy tarot cards, the group begins to be killed off quickly. The ones that remain then work together to stop their untimely fate before it’s too late.


The storyline, simple as it may be, benefits from the talent of its core characters, even if it takes some deaths before you actually begin to care for them. That first act drags a little. Avantika Vandanapu and Jacob Batalon (who play Paige and Paxton respectively) in particular breathe life into their characters for different reasons. Paige acts like the emotional heart of the group whose fear and grief feel the most genuine, while Paxton plays the comedic relief that keeps the rest of the characters on their feet. Tarot is also undoubtedly fun, with a pace that has you at the edge of your seat — once the death starts coming, it doesn’t stop coming.

That said, it is unfortunate that the film doesn’t really go anywhere, becoming shallow and unmemorable by the end. Other than cool character designs via the tarot cards, and a handful of great scenes (Paige’s death via being sawed in half comes to mind), it fails to put up that anything that will really surprise or shock you. It takes itself far too seriously, despite being surrounded by monsters that should probably lean a bit camp and comedic rather than be played straight. Sure, all of them are creepy, but a handful also feel like Courage the Cowardly Dog villains. It also relies far too much on loud jump scares to deliver on the horror, and this despite building tension effectively in the right places.


In the end, the title of this review says a lot about what the watching experience was like — Tarot feels so much like a Final Destination film that it seems like it was a conscious choice. The general premise sticks: a bunch of young adults try to fight their inevitable deaths with varying levels of success. Both have their moments of terrifying clarity, and both have their schlocky choices, but ultimately they’re exciting as hell to watch (even if they haven’t much depth to them). The biggest difference is that the thing that comes out to kill the Tarot kids has a face, a backstory, and isn’t quite literally the invisible embodiment of Death. 

While both movies explore the inevitability of fate, they do it in different ways; perhaps signifying the difference in generations. 


In the 2000s there was an existential dread: the new millennium signified something unknown and new, calling to the eventuality of everything ending (and maybe starting, too). It’s why the Final Destination films were so focused on cheating death, the Y2K scare was indicative of maybe an inkling of fear that everything past the year 1999 was just a drawn-out eventuality to the end of the world. It’s why Death surrounded the characters as an invisible force: the new millennium was something that encompassed everything, you lived in it, whether you liked it or not.

Tarot, on the other hand, uses the anxiety that surrounded us in the 2020 pandemic and the world ending dread that came with it. People were looking to astrology and tarot for answers to their fate and some took it seriously, irrespective of whether it brought them comfort or even more fear. It’s why the character’s tarot reading, in the beginning, ends up being a literal play-by-play of their death, with their centre card pull being the harbinger of their death. The over-reliance on the stars and fate can only spell anxiety if taken to heart. And if it was maybe a greater film, a better and clearer argument could be made about this idea. (Alas, it’s not.)

Ultimately, Tarot is another horror film that you may watch with a group of friends — whether it be in the cinemas or just gathered around a smaller screen. It’s fast-paced, full of yell-at-the-TV moments, and won’t leave you in a crisis, which is really all we need from a movie sometimes. It does the job and can even be treated like a spiritual successor to Final Destination (despite there being a Final Destination 6 coming to our screens in 2025).

Tarot is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Zahra is probably asleep right now as you read this. When awake, they enjoy gushing about the things they love like coming of age films, k-pop girl groups, and Ms Marvel, among others. Armed with a MA in Film Studies and a penchant for overthinking, they've got all the tools to tell you why they think the curtains in a scene are blue. (It's a symbol for sorrow, dammit!)

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