31 Days of Horror: Day 6- Ouija: Origin of Evil

Posted October 6, 2017 by Thomas James Juretus in Movies

Day 6, and today’s valuable lesson is to not break the rules. Which, of course, need to be broken so we can have horror movies. The 2016 movie Ouija: Origin of Evil serves as a prequel to the fairly awful 2014 film Ouija, and director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Gerald’s Game) does a fine job of making us forget the original and establishes this film as a far more enjoyable, stand alone experience. The movie follows Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters, Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson), adjusting to life after the passing of Alice’s husband, Roger (Michael Weaver). Alice has set herself up to be a medium, duping people for money with the aid of her daughters and some clever contraptions. One day, Alice brings an actual Ouija board game home, figuring to use it as a prop in her act. The rules are made very clear: 1. Never play alone. 2. Don’t play in a graveyard. 3. Always say goodbye. Naturally, Alice breaks Rule No. 1 immediately. She is followed soon enough by young Doris, who misses her father and wants desperately to talk to him. Alice discovers Doris has a knack for talking to spirits, and soon the two of them are in business together, believing they’re helping people. The priest running the school the girls attend, Father Tom (Henry Thomas), soon comes to worry that Doris and Alice are getting into something they shouldn’t. As you could guess, he has a right to worry, for not all spirits are friendly.

The movie does a fine job at maintaining its suspense and holding your interest. It helps that the three main characters, the mother and her daughters, are very likeable. Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation) is especially good in her role as Doris, going from sweet to creepy in a believable manner. There are a couple of jump scares, but most of the film is made up of unnerving incidents rather than in your face frights. As things get progressively worse, we do worry about these people getting through alive. The special effects are mostly good, especially the more practical effects. There are some okay CGI effects, though they aren’t always as effective. The performances are all very good. Reaser (Esme Cullen from the Twilight movies) is very believable as the mother trying to make ends meet. Basso (Captain Fantastic) plays the older daughter without slipping too far into the brooding teenager cliche. And Henry Thomas (E.T.) is very good as Father Tom, who reaches out to help the family. While there are some familiar elements, the director does a nice enough job at twisting things enough to keep the audience’s interest. The film also has some heart to go along with its frights, and that serves to make it far better than the flat, uninspired original. Stay tuned through the end credits for a post credits scene. Now available on DVD/Blu-ray. Worth checking out. 7.5/10 stars

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Thomas James Juretus