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Home > Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016): A Review

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016): A Review

Ouija

Be Careful What You Wish For...

The Zander family has seen better days. Times have been hard since the family patriarch passed away, leaving behind Alice and her two daughters. The mother, Alice, works as a fake medium to make ends meet, but it’s not enough to keep the bill collectors at bay. Their fortunes begin to change when they incorporate a Ouija board into the act. Soon, unseen forces start to make contact through Doris, Alice’s youngest daughter. The voices are not who they say they are, and the women have no idea how much danger they’ve put themselves in. The Zanders soon learn that the thing that claims to be their deceased father and husband is not who it says. The thing that speaks through Doris is far more menacing, and it’s playing for keeps. 

While the previous film set in the present-day was a certified dud, this sequel, set in the late 60s, is a vast improvement. Mike Flanagan knew what he wanted, and it shows. The plot sees the family find solace in the form of the Ouija board, which lets them speak to the deceased father again. It’s only Lina, Alice’s oldest daughter, who sees what is really going on. Alice’s desire to be connected to her husband again causes her to fail in seeing the change that the continued activity is having on Doris. It’s an almost heartbreaking thing to see and only benefits the film.

Also along for the ride is Father Tom Hogan, played by frequent Flanagan collaborator Henry Thomas. He’s a kind man and a surrogate father figure to the girls, as well as a love interest for Alice. When things start to go wrong, he’s there for the family without hesitation. The entire cast is both likable and relatable. The previous film’s characters were largely one-dimensional. The Zander’s on the other hand, are diverse. They don’t appear to be cookie-cutter horror characters, which makes the ending all the more tragic. 

Ouija: Origin of Evil excels due to Flanagan’s mastery of the horror genre. While not all of his work are hits, he has his finger on the pulse and knows that common scare tactics are and aren’t going to cut it. There is very little that can be deemed predictable. Flanagan has also applied an interesting vintage aesthetic, providing a look and feel that is of the time for which the movie is set. Indeed, everything he puts into this picture is well thought out. The house in which the haunting takes place feels like a home, and the characters feel like people who could be friends in the real world. It’s the director’s care and attention to detail and story that helps to set him apart from other films like it.

Ouija

There are many scares to be had, both direct and indirect. As said above, Flanagan keeps the film from being predictable. There are very few, if any, moments where a viewer can accurately anticipate an oncoming scare. There are also few jump scares, which are now common tropes within modern horror. The film instead relies on the eeriness of atmosphere, creepiness, and imagery.

The moment the spirits of the house begin their influence, there is a constant feeling that something is wrong from the rest of the film on. The ghosts act through Doris as a vessel, but the unease can be felt even when she is not in the room. Viewers should keep an eye on the background in certain scenes. If they look closely enough, they can see vague silhouettes in doorways and perhaps other places as if someone is standing in the shadows. This creates the sense that a door was opened from which the spirits came spilling out.

Other more alarming scares are effective in their simplicity. The gradual build in tension leads to a fast-paced and shocking climax that no one will see coming, with the final scene serving as a reminder that the film is in fact a prequel to a far less entertaining film. 

In all, Ouija: Origin of Evil is a good movie. After the previous film’s disappointment, there weren’t high expectations of this prequel. However, Mike Flanagan took what could have easily been a basic haunting movie and made it original and interesting. Despite the praise, it’s not as memorable as other films, but it’s worthy of a viewing.

As the horror director continues to make a name for himself through Netflix series like The Haunting of Hill House and the upcoming Midnight Club, his strengths are also on display in his film catalog. If anyone wants to know if one of the aforementioned mini-series would be worth their time, they need only watch this film and decide for themselves.

Ouija

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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