Despite overwhelming financial success, 2014’s Ouija was panned by viewers and critics. It was poorly written, embarrassingly kitschy, and not at all scary. So it was surprising to hear a prequel was being developed. One that would focus on the history of the family uncovered in the first film. With Mike Flanagan (Hush, Oculus) directing and cowriting, this film far eclipses its predecessor. Providing the audience with a terrifyingly fun film just in time for Halloween.
In 1967 Los Angeles, Alice Zander is trying to make ends meet after the loss of her husband. She runs a faux fortune teller business inside her home with her two daughters, Lina and Doris, aiding in her scam. With a few tricks up their sleeves, they’re able to make grieving families believe they are speaking with their passed loved ones. In order to spruce up their gimmick, Alice purchases an Ouija board and opens a gateway to the spirit world.
After younger sister Doris makes communication with a spirit thought to be her deceased father, Alice knows they have a mission to bring closure to other families as well. Lina isn’t convinced as the others and begins to experience odd nightmares and sees Doris’ strange behavior. She reaches out to Father Tom, principle at her Catholic school, who discovers the terrifying truth.
This film does a great job of presenting the story briefly explored in the second half of the 2014 film. Here is an example of how a PG-13 film can work well within its constraints, whereas the first film seemed to be hindered by it. Rather than a cheesy teen drama, we have a classic possession/haunting that builds suspense. Lulu Wilson is also fantastic as Doris and the effects with her are some of the scariest and most unsettling parts.
While the film far exceeds what the first presented us, the pacing begins to get a little off balance in the third act. It’s around this time, as a viewer, you begin to get lost and it wavers between boring and creepy. In the main climactic scenes, a few of the effects appear more humorous and fall flat. This is mainly to blame on how the scene was shot and the lack of special and sound effects. But the overall film itself is well made and brings a solid spooky story.
Ouija: Origin of Evil in theaters October 21, 2016
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