In very short order director/screenwriter Mike Flanagan has announced himself as a big player in the horror film genre. Just this year alone he has two films released that have been above average – Before I Wake and Ouija: Origin of Evil. Though he is a relative newbie, Mike Flanagan has become very quickly someone to pay attention to.
Within horror it is very rare that a sequel is stronger than the original film. In this case it is totally true. Ouija was okay while this one is really enjoyable…that is, if horror is your thing. Director Flanagan shows himself to be a man who pays attention to details. He treats the small things with importance and that elevates everything about a film. He is respectful with the storytelling and does not go too overboard on the horror. Another good aspect is that you do not have to have seen the previous Ouija in order to understand this one.
Los Angeles in 1965. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Young Adult) is a young widow who is trying to raise her two daughters on her own. She has a 9-year-old and a rebellious teenager to deal with. The family pays the bills by hosting séance scams. The three women offer the opportunity to communicate with dead relatives and are there to give comfort. Teenager Paulina (Annalise Basso – Captain Fantastic, Oculus) suggests that they buy a Ouija board to liven up the proceedings.
Alice agrees but almost as soon as the board comes into the house things start happening. For sure, 9-year-old Doris (Lulu Wilson – Deliver Us From Evil) is the most affected. Alice, whose mother was also psychic, is thrilled that he daughter is demonstrating the ability as well. As such she removes her from school in order to earn money at home. Once they start using the Ouija board it does add plenty to the séance sessions, but what they do have to deal with are the spirits who now inhabit the house. Paulina thinks there is something fishy going on, especially with her sister, and she is right.
Though the film is scary and invests a lot of resources and time into scaring you, most of the scares are not the type that will have you jumping in your seat. This is horror-lite. Ouija: Origin of Evil has that old-fashioned horror film feel to it. It does not use much CGI in order to scare you. It is all kept rather organic looking. Flanagan relies mostly on tension and building it up in order to keep you on edge. Ouija: Origin of Evil has the look and feel of a horror film from the 60s.
Where the film is stronger than most is the acting and the sets. Loads of detail and effort to being right (tone, era, etc.) goes to the selection of the clothes, furniture, etc. As for the acting, the three females of varying ages are all good. The two sisters act like actual sisters and Elizabeth Reaser puts enough spunk into her character that it makes her likeable. A special nod goes to the youngest, Lulu Wilson, who is great in the creepy child scenes
The 2014 version of Ouija, which was a pretty poor film, did well at the box office. I see this one (which apparently only cost $9 million to make) making a lot of money as well. So don’t be surprised if they announce shortly that there will be a Ouija 3.