Movie Review: Ouija - Origin Of Evil

Ouija: Origin Of Evil poster

@ChazensJezebel reviews...


Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Stars: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas

Review

The Ouija board (pronounced wee-juh, NOT wee-jee), as we know it, has only been around since the late 1800s. It was recognized as a parlor game until spiritualists got a hold of it during WWII and it’s been associated with the occult ever since. In 2014, the Hasbro game was the main character in the atrocious Ouija. A film so bad, the mere idea of perpetuating this storyline was enough to make sensible horror fans feel genuine, physical pain.

Despite the potential misery of another Ouija film, the concept, a prequel, in the hands of writer/director Mike Flanagan was somewhat promising. Flanagan, who has given us some the smarter horror films in recent years, like Oculus and Hush, was more than capable of at least making a better film than the original. Ouija: Origin of Evil is just that, better than the original, but not a whole lot more.


Set in 1967 Los Angeles, we meet Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser), a widow and mother of two girls. Alice makes a living by giving phony seances in her home, with the assistance of her daughters, Paulina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson). In an attempt to bring in more income, Alice introduces a new prop, a Ouija board, which young Doris takes an immediate interest in. Thinking she’s contacting the spirit of her dead father, Doris becomes a conduit for something much more sinister.

The aesthetic is clean enough. Unfortunately, the throwback is a bit too reminiscent of The Conjuring films and not as effective as House of the Devil or even Stranger Things. There are jump scare aplenty, perhaps too many, but they work, especially with a willing audience and they don’t feel cheap. It’s something Flanagan is quite good at. The story suffers from a predictability that plagues most modern horror films. The characters, however, are well-developed and likable. While all of the performances are solid, it is Lulu Wilson who takes center stage as the main antagonist.


Wilson is both adorable and terrifying, starting as the naive, weird girl at her Catholic school then turning into a pint-sized terror. Once the obligatory possession happens, we get the open mouth, white eyed visage, as well as the expected wall climbing and whispering in the ears of her victims. But perhaps one of the most intense and disturbing moments is when she describes in great detail, being strangled to death. Her delivery is bone-chilling.

The most disappointing thing about Ouija: Origin of Evil is the third act. Perhaps Flanagan was trying to keep the film at a respectable running time and still had too much he wanted to do, but there is so much happening at such a quick pace, the climax gets a little muddled. Still he manages to tie up the loose ends and tie this film to the original.

One final note, wait until the credits are finished...

Suzanne Bell

Twitter: @ChazensJezebel

Images: IMDb & youtube

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