Ouija: Origin of Evil
Director Mike Flanagan has some fun with this cliché-packed prequel, providing an evocative if not muddled backstory to the 2014 Ouija, just in time for Halloween.
Struggling to support her family after the death of her husband in 1965 Los Angeles, Alice Zander follows in her mother’s footsteps by enacting fake séances and charging people for the pleasure. While bringing her two girls in on the act seems harmless enough, the introduction of an ouija board reveals her youngest is in fact as able to connect with the afterlife as they had duped their customers into believing. A veritable horror fest ensues as the sinister history of their house comes to light and the disturbed spirits residing there wreak havoc on the Zander family.
The movie’s nods to virtually all the genre’s tropes come so thick and fast one might be excused for taking it for a spoof: amateur delvings in the occult going haywire, a house built on a graveyard of sorts, the links back to warped Nazi experiments, the innocent young girl becoming the unlikely victim, and so on. Even many of the haunting images, such as demon-inhabited Doris crawling Exorcist-esque up the walls, are so close to a carbon copy of their original, it’s impossible they pass unnoticed. Aside from some teenage angst and thwarted desire between Alice and the local priest, the sexual undertones so often preoccupying the genre are perhaps the only cliché the film doesn’t overtly play on.
But despite an incredibly unoriginal plot, Mike Flanagan just about saves Ouija: Origin of Evil from ennui through some genuinely terrifying imagery, well-manipulated suspense, and unexpected black comedy. The 60s aesthetic also makes for a striking visual backdrop and the director uses the house setting and lighting skillfully to create a suitably unsettling atmosphere. The strong female cast also carries some bumpy plot shifts: young Lulu Wilson’s performance is impressive, delivering chilling stares and deadpan lines that hit a darkly comic note as a possessed Doris. Annalise Basso, too, shows promise as Paulina, with a non-conventional Hollywood look and sassy demeanour.
A good old-fashioned horror movie, there might not be any awards for originality going here, but with a strong grasp on the visually frightening and an ability to make you jump as well as laugh, Ouija: Origin of Evil certainly does enough to usurp its original, if not keep the more cynical horror movie buffs entertained.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is released nationwide Friday 21st October 2016.
Watch the trailer for Ouija: Origin of Evil here: