WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
Stop me if you have heard this story before. A group of idiots…LET ME FINISH!!!!
A group of idiots, one day decide to break out an Ouija board to talk to spirits and things go wrong almost immediately. If you have heard this story already, that’s because it seems like Hollywood makes this film at least 2-3 times a year. Ouija: Origin of Evil is a sequel that is actually a prequel to the film simply titled Ouija from 2014. Of course, you had to be told this was a sequel because these Blumhouse films all seem to melt together after a while. Cheaply produced horror with the idea of making a shit ton of money. The quality of these films is hit or miss for the most part so it is like eating one of those mystery jelly beans and hoping for the best. I never saw Ouija so I have to judge this film on its own merit and hope it doesn’t catch ‘Stopmakingthesemoviesitis’
Our story begins in the late 1960s, a woman named Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Lina and Doris (Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson) run a semi-scam fortune telling business out of her house. Alice claims to help grieving families find closure with the death of their loved ones. One night Lina sneaks out of the house with her teenage friends and decides to play with an Ouija board. After getting the idea from her daughter, Alice decides to get one of her own…and things go wrong almost immediately. Doris, her youngest daughter, begins to spend too much time on the board and too much time talking to ‘new friends’. By the time anyone realizes something is wrong with this picture, Doris becomes possessed by a group of evil spirits living inside the home.
The film is very well paced in the first hour or so. A lot of time is spent on the family’s backstory and used building up the paranormal activity in the home. The family lost their father years earlier but it’s never really explained how he dies. A family that tries to help others grieve haven’t fully gotten over their own loss themselves. This becomes a big piece of irony down the line as the spirits begin to channel what the family wants to hear in order to make them believe their father is still with them. The same way they do to their customers. Lulu Wilson plays Doris and is the perfect creepy little kid. The cinematography around her when she says some generally messed up shit is genuinely disturbing and adds to the creepiness of the film. Her family should have known some wicked shit was happening in their house especially once the Ouija board begins to answer questions on its own.
Later on, we discover that the evil surrounding Doris didn’t come from the board but from an evil element that was already present in the house. An old polish family was tortured and murdered in the same home the family had stayed in for years during World War II but activity only accelerated when the board was bought in. The problem for the Zanders is they don’t bring in help until it’s already too late. The family’s priest is brought in to evaluate Doris and it doesn’t take him long to see an exorcism is needed. The family never gets the opportunity as the final act is an all-out battle between the living and the dead. While the build prior was very subtle in its build, the ending goes balls to the walls. A bunch of people die and the dilemma becomes a no win situation for everyone involved. There is even an end credit scene but I doubt this series is getting another film so it all may be for nothing.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is a solid effort in the horror genre. While it isn’t the scariest film, there is great tension and story put into the movie to balance it out. The cast is great especially Lulu Wilson. The tone and theme are pretty dark for parents who may think about taking their kids to this. However, Hasbro Studios finally has a successful movie on their hands after critical flops such as Battleship and Jem and the Holograms. Luckily for them, the scares are in the film and not at the box office.
OFFICIAL RATING: ***
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