For decades, the Ouija board has provided spooky entertainment. A board-game where the players ‘contact the dead’ has led to several strange occurrences and many horror films. ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ exploits the game’s sinister allure with wicked glee. You can take this movie as seriously as you can with the game as creaky contrivances gradually provide true terror. It’s a spooky slice of horrific mayhem sure to evoke memories of other board games lovingly played before the computer age.
In 1967, widowed mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her daughters Paulina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) run a fake séance scam. Using it to make a fast buck, their lives are turned upside down when discovering a Ouija board. When Doris uses it to contact her dead father, an evil spirit reaches through the board to possess her. A maelstrom of horror quickly develops with Alice enlisting the services of local priest Father Tom (Henry Thomas) to banish the supernatural interloper back to the hellish depths.
For all its predictable moments, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is an effective chiller. It’s hard being original and its borrowing from ‘The Omen’ and ‘The Exorcist’ films is sometimes apparent. Making it work is its level of genuine conviction. Due to the very strong performances and Mike Flanagan’s astute direction, you come to care about what happens to the characters. While the outcome may not be in doubt, how everyone reaches the conclusion is well handled due to the fine small ensemble and emotional depth.
Free of the shackles of CGI pyrotechnics, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ has a pleasingly low-tech feel. The 60’s setting perfectly captures this as the story is forced to work harder in generating scares. It does with ease with the creepy atmosphere continually present. There are very little of the usual ‘jump-scares’ so prevalent in recent horror films. It’s more about the mood with the themes of handling loss and how it transforms people deftly mixed within the horror framework.
‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ effectively plays on fears of the unknown and the power of ‘the other side’. It can be taken as either scary nonsense or as an intense haunted house movie. Either way it may increase sales of the board-game with this cross-promotion surely not harming its shadowy reputation.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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