In 2014, the brilliant minds behind such memorable films as “Knowing” and “The Possession” joined forces once again to produce what may have been one of the most unquantifiably boring Horror films of this Decade: Ouija. A weak premise, uninspiring characters and about as much enjoyment as spending all day walking in wet socks resulted in the need for this year’s prequel to be at all time low.
After bland acting, lazy scares and scenarios that seemed drawn out and overused, this sequel needed to do something many have so far failed to do: Improve on its predecessor. It says a lot when the most haunting element of The Conjuring, Annabelle, couldn’t manage to keep audiences scared even when it was something they had be begging to see since day 1. On paper this looked to be nothing more than a cheap rehash released during the Halloween season to help adolescent teens break the ice and go in for that first awkward embrace.
Round 1 – Plot
It should come as no surprise that “Ouija: Origin of Evil” is the much needed (fictional) origin story of the Ouija board game that has grown in notoriety over the years following its release. Written and Directed by Mike Flanagan, Elizabeth Reaser plays Alice, a widowed mother who with the help of her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business. However in doing so, they unwittingly invite a more authentic form of evil into their home. When Alice’s youngest daughter, Doris is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family must confront unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
In a surprisingly intimate script, this prequel has succeeded in ways its previous encounter failed to do so monumentally. From compelling back stories to frights that seem integral to the fluidity of the plot progression, this is without doubt an improvement on the Car Crash that was the original.
ROUND 1 SCORE: 8/10
Round 2 – Characters
As mentioned during Round 1, Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight Saga) plays widowed mother Alice, a tired medium looking for new and interesting ways to “help” the customers so desperate to make contact with deceased family or friends. Reaser’s ability to portray both strength and vulnerability while confronting threats both internally and externally provides a particular depth so heavily needed! By giving the main protagonist such definition and purpose, their ability to carry personal complexities of the story becomes a much easier affair.
In addition to this, a standout performance from Lulu Wilson as the possessed Doris adds a further depth to this already chilling story. Her clean, charismatic interpretation of a troubled child searching for answers about her father’s death further adds to the scares once they find their on to the screen.
With a small mix of necessary and otherwise unnecessary characters combine throughout the remainder of this movie, Ouija: Origin of Evil manages to do something other horror franchises have failed to do: produce characters An audience can root for once the horror finally take place.
ROUND 2 SCORE: 8/10
ROUND 3 – Overall Enjoyment
Although no expert on how Horror movies should be made in an artistic sense, however as a moviegoer I am know what is enjoyable and what is not. Ouija: Origin of Evil is not so much a horror as a family drama surrounded by supernatural occurrences. With scares that genuinely shock to themes that will possess your thought process long after the movie has ended.
Although the overall tone and pace does take a bemusing turn during the final act, the overall enjoyability of this film outweighs all doubts cast after it’s initial misdemeanours. By offering an interesting take on a tale told in a hundred different ways, this certainly stands out as a contender for horror movie of the year and absolute triumph in comparison to the stain on the genre produced before.
ROUND 3 SCORE: 7/10
FINAL SCORE: OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL WINS BY DECISION 23/30.
As mentioned on a number of occasions throughout this contest, the “sleeper bit of 2014” Ouija was probably one of the laziest attempts at horror of the last 5 years. And that it was this laziness that left a seriously sour taste in the mouth when deciding to watch it’s inevitable follow-up. Thankfully however, through the Direction of Mike Flanagan, this prequel manages to reinvigorate the lifeless corpse that had been handed to them and turn into something worth talking about for the months to come.