OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016)

BY BLAINE MCLAREN

I will be the first to admit that I chuckled when I first heard Universal was making a sequel to the Board Game based movie, Ouija.  The first film wasn’t my thing and I never bothered checking it out. Most of the trailers for the first film looked like it was geared for much younger viewers, so I just decided to skip it.  Once the trailers emerged for Origin of Evil I was surprised by the quality and more impressed by the Director attached, Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus).  I have seen most of his films and neither of his features connected with me, but I could tell that he had the potential for a great film inside him.  Who would have ever thought that great film would be Ouija: Origin of Evil?

It starts in Los Angeles in the mid 1960’s and we meet the Zander family.  A recently widowed mother and her 2 daughters who run a bogus psychic business that relies on clever gags and theatrics to sell its authenticity.  Once they decide to add a new prop (the titular Ouija Board), it awakens a strange ability in the youngest daughter.  When it first starts it seems like a blessing, but quickly turns sinister and places the family in grave danger.

It seems odd to be praising this film. I did not expect much, but I was humbled to go to a screening (with other cynical bastards) with snarky comments and come out completely jazzed.  The scares are a plenty, but the greatest achievement is the way it is made.  The film could have been a lot of things, but Flanagan was skilled enough to make an old fashioned ghost story and breathe new life into it.  Mike Flanagan draws you in with fantastic mechanics and camera work, then envelops you into the life of this family turned on its head with grief.  Ouija: Origin of Evil is a masterclass in elevating your source material into something great and original.  The acting is solid all around and the script is fine.  In all honesty, the story itself is derivative but you won’t care once you are sucked into the film.  There are only a few instances (one long scene of exposition towards the end) where the story gets in the way, but (once again) it is forgivable.  I know a lot of jaded horror fans are never going to give it a chance, but the few who are not “too school for school” will be able to have a great theatrical experience just in time for Halloween!  Ouija: Origin of Evil opens wide in theaters 10/21.

[usr 4.5]

 

 

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