Hot Take: It’s a rare not horrible sequel (which is actually a prequel) and a rare not horrible horror movie. It’s still mediocre but has plenty of scares to please those looking to not sleep.
I’m not a huge fan of being scared. That made Ouija: Origin of Evil somewhat difficult to sit through. The film’s ’60s setting acts as an origin story to the original Ouija which was widely accepted as terrible despite a solid box office performance. The box office was strong enough to spawn this prequel and Ouija: Origin of Evil outshines its predecessor in every way.
First, the film nails the 1967 setting. It feels like a piece ripped from the period. It has a fleshed out back story for the family that it doesn’t overuse (the death of the patriarch of the family) and it has what almost every horror movie has these days — a creepy kid, Doris (Lulu Wilson). The film’s only problem is that the first half is so good that when the second one starts to derail, you can’t help but be disappointed that what you’re watching isn’t going to escape mediocrity.
If there’s a consolation prize, Ouija: Origin of Evil doesn’t ever feel like it cares about following the typical third act arc. The outcome of good vs. evil is always in question and since this is a relatively “spoiler free” zone, we won’t reveal if good triumphs. Outside of Wilson as the creepy kid, the rest of the movie contains committed, solid performances in what turns out to be a well casted horror flick. The family’s resemblances are enough to make you believe this is actually a real family. Elizabeth Reaser plays Alice, the matriarch of the family, and daughter Paulina is well played by Annalise Basso who also delivered an excellent performance in Captain Fantastic. Henry Thomas as Father Tom is also very good in his role.
Throughout the film, the creepiness of Wilson is what delivers the most scares. Every time she shows up on screen (even before the Ouija board is introduced to the family), something doesn’t feel quite right. The movie adds a few other creepy horror staples that act as false idols including creepy dolls and equally disturbing house.
Unfortunately, the third act loses a lot of credibility as its tough to reconcile the events occurring on screen. Logic and reason are thrown out the window and its up to the audience to suspend disbelief. While the first half definitely does a good job of earning some credibility in the “Something weird is going on here” department, it’s not enough to carry through the climax of the fright flick as liberties are taken to deliver some relatively big scares. Once the adrenaline stops pumping and rational thought comes in, it’s hard to buy some of the movie’s decisions on how to play out the course of events.
Give writers Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard credit, though. They didn’t have much to work with from the first film but manage to deliver a competent albeit mediocre scare show. Flanagan is also responsible for the directing and the pair of writers have now proven with 2014’s Oculus and now Ouija: Origin of Evil, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the supernatural horror genre.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Creepy Child
Sometimes this doesn’t work but it definitely works in Ouija: Origin of Evil. Give Lulu Wilson all the credit as she plays the part almost perfectly.
- That ’60s Show
The movie is detailed in its capturing of the ’60s look and feel. There’s attention given here that doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The First Half Outshines the Second Half
Unfortunately, the build up is better than the eventual outcome. It makes the movie a let down overall.
- It’s Still A Sequel (Well, Prequel)
In a week where the box office is crowded enough, the fact that your selections include two sequels and a third (Boo! A Madea Halloween) featuring a recurring character, somewhere the sequel madness has to subside a little, right?