Ouija (2014) was a lazy, nonsensical movie about a bunch of teenagers who get killed because one of them plays a Ouija board alone and awakens something dark and sinister in the house. The hero of the film is a friend who figures out that there was a family of three women – a mother and two daughters who did seances in the same house and one of them is the bad spirit who is killing her friends. She visits one of the sisters in an asylum only to be tricked by her to actually awaken the monster sister. The film itself was shabby, with no logic to the sequence of events and plot holes the size of pot holes on Indian roads. It was one of the worst of 2014.
Flash forward to 2016, we have Ouija: Origin of Evil which attempts to tell the story of the three women and connect it to the 2014 disaster. Is this a bigger disaster? Read on to find out.
Plot and Script
This prequel shows the story of middle-aged widow Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) who earns her living as a fake medium and has help in her charades by her two daughters, 15-year-old Lina (Annalise Basso) and 9-year-old Doris (Lulu Wilson). She insists that she is just comforting the living who come for the readings by faking contact with their dead loved ones.
Fast forward to an under-aged alcohol party which Lina attends just to fool around with her friends on a Ouija board and the suggestion that Alice should use one to up her theatrics. Alice does buy one and invents a whole magnetic mechanical process and tests it to see if she can move the planchette and make it seem like it is moving on its own. Little does she realize that she has awakened a spirit who channels himself through Doris who is obviously the one who will be possessed in the story.
Things start moving and the father makes contact when Doris tries her hand at the board – Alice takes that as a sign of Doris being a true medium and even puts her to work. But all hell breaks loose when the school priest (who has a soft corner for Alice) comes to the house to explain the letter that Lina saw Doris write – the letter is in polish and is the back story about the history of the house.
Without getting into spoilers, the story moves forward to show the possession, the havoc caused and how Lina ends up in the asylum – connecting it to Ouija.
The back story was a bit muddled and there were some flaws in the story but the story was largely logical.
Characterization and Acting (C&A)
The characterization and acting was really good I though. Special credit to Wilson who plays the part of the vulnerable-girl-eventually-turning-into-a-monster quite well. A lot of effort again to showcase the 60’s and done well right from costumes to the house.
Sounds and Effects (S&E)
Since sound is such an integral part of horror movies, it has to be good. And I am happy to say, it was good in this. There were minimal jump scares – if there was a lurking shadow, there wasn’t a loud noise to scare the audience, it was just a lurking shadow and a reaction by the character who saw it. The third and final act had a good sequence which helped the suspense. The editing is good and flows well – it does slow down once in a while but that is to establish the characters which is done really well. The first act is only about that.
Cinematography and Visuals (C&V)
This movie looks really good. The 60’s are shown like how it should be but obviously with a modern twist. I noticed the ‘cigarette burns‘ all too well which just shows a lot of care was taken while making the movie to make it seem like it is a period film when people had to change reels once those circles showed up.
I didn’t think too much of the demon itself – it sorta broke away from the setting of the movie because it was CGI and obviously some of the other effects when Doris gets possessed are kinda funny if you see – I didn’t find it creepy.
Direction and Overall (D &O)
Mike Flanagan has the craft people – he proved it again (Oculus and Hush fame). He made sure the characters are well defined so when the movie moves forward, we care about them. He made sure the sequence of events was logical though the story is about demonic possession and that it is a well made, suspenseful horror movie without the use of stupid jump scares. Kudos Mr. Director!
Bottomline: The first one was so stupid that most people didn’t expect this one to do anything other than bore you. But this is a good one in the Halloween season, well made with solid characters and some good scares. Does have some flaws but the character of Doris, played by Wilson is by far the best thing about the movie – a kind of Damien-esque role where you think she is cute one minute and a devil the next.
So here are my scores:
Plot and Script (P&S)- 1
Characterization and Acting (C&A) – 1.5
Sounds and Effects (S&E) – 1.5
Cinematography and Visuals (C&V) – 1.5
Direction and Overall (D &O) – 1.5
Overall Score – 7 out of 10
Only because the story itself had nothing original – there was a house which had a history, a young kid who looks cute but gets possessed, and if there is a possession, there is a priest. And the CGI monster, not too great.
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