I don't expect complex characterization in a horror flick but, as with so many teen-oriented horror films, Ouija relies too much on ‘jump-scares’ rather than make the effort to create effective atmospherics and old-school creepiness. It utilizes clichés that litter most other teen-horror films and have done so for the last decade. Making a creepy movie about the Ouija board as a long-established tool for séances isn’t really much of a challenge, as this device has been used as the catalyst for countless haunted-house stories.
The tale created around Debbie’s spooky old house and her recalcitrant Ouija board involves archive searches, a cache of old photographs, secret rooms, previous occupants secreted away in psychiatric institutions and similarly familiar horror territory. First-time director Stiles White (a former F/X guy and screenwriter who has co-written this with Juliet Snowden) has a precise, clean style going for him and seems to know how to direct an audience’s attention. He finds a pace and sticks with it. White does manage to summon up some appropriately creepy imagery and plot twists that work within the framework of a kid-friendly rating, so any encounters with the dark side are never grisly enough to upset the popcorn at a sleepover party.
The most unfortunate aspect of the movie is the banal dialogue. The writers hover between the conversational pleasantries that define these ‘oh-so-caring’ teen relationships and whatever exposition might be needed to get the film to the next scary set-piece. Ouija is by-the-book, unambitious teenage-horror fare – it isn’t going to redefine the genre, but it’s good enough to keep the kids off the streets for a couple of hours.
Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2015 All rights reserved.