2016 has been the year of fantastic horror movies. So much so that even a sequel (prequel actually) to a terrible movie from a couple of years ago that had trailers that were downright laughable in its badness, turns out to be a really good movie.
There was no way that I was going to like Ouija: Origin of Evil. As I said, I hated the trailers. This film looked just terrible. I went into this with the mind set that I was going to hate this.
So what happened?
Ouija: Origin of Evil was a really fun time.
I know… I can’t believe it either.
Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) was a medium who, along with her two daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson), had “psychic” readings designed to convince grieving relatives that their loved ones were okay. Though the readings were faked, Alice claimed that they were doing the survivors a service, helping them move on and give them closure.
Alice’s husband had recently died, and this loss was tough on the girls. Lina sneaked out of the house one night to go hang out with her friends where she experienced a Ouija board. Telling her mom about it, they decide to add the Ouija board to the act.
Problem was that, once they started using the board, Doris started showing some spiritual connection with it. She would hear voices and could manipulate the Ouija board without even touching it.
At first, this seemed to be a gift, but it was not too long where Doris started exhibiting some less than positive traits.
I really enjoyed this movie. The biggest thing that I enjoyed about it was that it took its time to introduce these characters and spent time on making them more than the typical stereotypical horror movie characters. All three of the Zander women were well developed, three dimensional people with real worries, concerns and thoughts. You don’t see that enough in horror movies. In fact, even the secondary characters such as Father Tom (Henry Thomas from E.T. fame) and Mikey (Parker Mack) had time spent on them.
Lulu Wilson, who came across as silly in the trailers, does a great job in a role that demanded a strong performance for this film to succeed. Her performance was both creepy and filled with sadness, which was also missing from the trailer. Annalise Basso’s Lina was much more important to the story than the trailer made it look, and she steps up to the plate.
Ouija: Origin of Evil was directed by Mike Flanagan, who has directed the enjoyable Oculus and the excellent Netflix movie Hush, and Flanagan has another great horror genre film on his resume. He does an excellent job of creating real scares in the audience instead of trying to maneuver the audience into being frightened. The jump scares are kept to a minimum and when they are there, he does not use the loud music cues that most horror movies employ. The silence used here was much more effective.
There were also a concerted effort to make this feel like a film that was made in the 1960s. The film’s setting was taking place in the decade and Flanagan went out of his way to make it work. He went as far as to add the little blip in the corner of the screen, which used to indicate to the film projectionist that it was time to switch reels. This is not a technique that is used anymore and the fact that Flanagan added such a thing really showed how dedicated he was to creating the tone of this film.
There was no way that this movie was going to be a good movie. The original Ouija film was one of the worst films of 2014 and there was no way that it needed a sequel. However, Ouija: Origin of Evil was made and it turned out to be fabulous. In many years, this would easily be the best horror movie of the year, but 2016 had some really powerhouse horror movies released. Ouija: Origin of Evil is in the discussion with those great films, and I did not see that coming.