Ouija: Origin of Evil review
Looks like were playing some board games again! Kind of like movies based on video games, board game movies are a tough call as there not that many of them, and yet so many of the are bad. We have Clue, which I still find a very funny “whodunit in a house” story, but we also have the strange mess Battleship was, and then we have Ouija. Rather then asking where did the original go wrong, it’s better to ask what it got right. I guess you can’t blame them for task of adapting a prop for slumber parties into a driven story.
When it was announced that another Ouija movie was being produced, most people were angry that such a poor horror movie could warrant more of them. Just remember that as long as something makes a profit, that only tells the studios that people want more. In a surprise movie, the production company in charge, Blumhouse Productions, issued an apology for the original Ouija, promising that the new movie would be up to their standards. Though I wished we could have gotten this sooner, that shows a sign that they do value creativity over cash income, so it gave me more hope that Ouija: Origin of Evil could change my mind.
In the late 1960s, fortuneteller Alice Zander (played by Elizabeth Reaser) makes her séances more legitimate by adding mechanisms that would allow lights to flicker, candles to be blown out at random, and for random figure to materialize. The use of smoke and mirrors tend to involve her daughters teenager Paulina (played by Annalise Basso) and nine year old Doris (played by Lulu Wilson). Though they seems to attract customers, their finances have been in trouble since the death of the family father. After seeing a copy of the newly released Ouija board game, Paulina convinces her mother to add one as a work tool.
While playing with it, Doris unknowingly contacts a spirit who she says is her father trying to help the family. At first, Alice sees her daughters contact with ghosts as a delight to her fortunetelling sessions and seems to be actually helping people. The more that Alice stays in contact with the spirit, the more odd things start to happen. When her school principal Father Tom (played by Henry Thomas) begins to gather clues that Doris’ spirit may be demonic, the ghosts are ready to stand with their possessed girl.
Talk about a complete turnaround of a series. Ouija: Origin of Evil only adds to this years strong lineup of good horror movies (The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, The Shallows), with a possession story that may seem unoriginal, but throws plenty of curveballs with its premise. Unlike the original, this actually manages to make the board they’re using frightening. Taking it out of the hands of dumb teens and into unexplained forces makes the situation more unpredictable. You hardly know what’s going to set off the bad stuff.
Also unlike the first Ouija, you actually care about these characters and want to see what the boards effects is going to have on this poor family. I’ll be quick to note that rather then going for the endless supply of jump scares, this creates a spooky atmosphere that releases a bigger feeling of dread on the audience. This is how you scare people. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes that made such a drastic chance from the original, but lets hope that the team behind Ouija: Origin of Evil can continue to produce more of the horror movies we should be getting.
I’ll give this four and a half original Ouija games out of five. Now that we have this one, I’m not even sure if it makes sense for people to watch the original. Though this is a prequel, it’s safer just to assume it’s it own thing rather then an extension. Let’s hope people are willing to give this a chance so that this story’s fortunes are pointing to “yes”.