Halloween means ‘horror movie season’, so if you’re after an effortless dose of goosebumps, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ turns out to be a safe bet. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not perfect, and it’s most certainly not the best scary movie ever. Yet, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ manages to reinvigorate a franchise that was basically stillborn.
As its title suggests, it’s a prequel to the first ‘Ouija’, which disappointed many in 2014 with its dull mix of plot holes, terrible acting and predictable jump scares. It’d be enough to say there was plenty of room for improvement, but for those who haven’t seen it (and don’t intend to) here’s a short summary : a bunch of good-looking American teens play with a Ouija board and get stalked by the spirits of a woman and her two daughters.
What caused this charming trio to be so bloodthirsty? Don’t fret—‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is here to explain it all.
Set in Los Angeles in 1967, the movie tells the tale of the two daughters when they were kids. Paulina (but you can call her Lina) is a regular American teenager, the kind of girl that sneaks out of her room at night and gets immediately caught. She has a little, soon-to-be creepy sister, Doris, who is also Reese Witherspoon’s tiny doppelganger. Since dad died in a terrible accident, the girls live with their mother Alice, who struggles to make ends meet and works as a fraudulent yet benevolent medium, with the help of her daughters.
(Life is hard, we don’t judge her and neither should you.)
As you can imagine, the business is not going to generate an impressive cash-flow, so Alice decides to buy a Ouija board in a toy shop and starts using it as a prop. Their lives go downhill from there.
You won’t find much innovation in ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’. From ‘Poltergeist’ (1982) onwards, the ‘possessed house’ genre has been explored by countless titles. However, there are a few things we appreciated, starting with the choice of using throwback title graphics and ‘cigarette burns’ to give the movie a certain vintage feel. Plus, Lulu Wilson delivers a very mature performance despite her young age: ‘tiny Reese’ is undeniably scary. There are also a few effective jump scares, even though not all of them are.
Speaking of the cons: stop using CGI ghosts, people. Seriously, it’s not 2002 anymore. As a matter of fact, unless they are somewhat ‘realistic’, you better don’t show those ghosts at all. Let the audience use their imagination, for once. Also, sometimes the action moves too fast and the plot twists are jarring, without mentioning a totally unnecessary, cheesy Disney-like scene that almost made me choke on popcorn.
Overall, despite some poorly executed clichés and a script that’s not always particularly convincing, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is funny and makes for an easy-to-swallow entertainment. At the end, you might even feel like you hadn’t wasted 99 minutes of your life—which is not a foregone conclusion.
– Rossella Quaranta