Ouija – 1 out of 5
I’ve always found Ouija boards kinda silly. Aside from the fact that science has already explained why the planchette moves under "ghostly" power (here’s a spoiler, you’re the one actually moving it and you don’t realize it), the board likes to make an occasional appearance in a horror film. For some reason, ghosts only want to use a novelty/discussion piece from Milton Bradley to do their communicating rather than just speak to us directly. However, despite the fact that the board is a staple in haunting films, we haven’t seen many spooky films that revolve entirely around it since Witchboard came out in 1986. I guess we were due for a film like Ouija.
|This would be cooler if you heard Sauron whispering|
"I see you."
Debbie (Shelley Hennig) meets with her best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) one night and is acting strangely. Debbie mentioned something about the Ouija board her and Laine played with as kids and then, after seeing a horrifying apparition, Debbie takes her own life. Soon, Laine learns that Debbie was using a Ouija board by herself and invited an angry spirit into her home. Laine takes her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), another friend Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos), and Debbie’s boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) and, together, they use the Ouija board to try and calm the angry spirit and bring peace to Debbie’s restless soul. Unfortunately, the monster haunting the home is stronger and more vengeful than they realize and it seems it won’t be happy until it claims the lives of all of them.
|Look at that! How can this ghost be evil?|
|"This isn't a phase, mom. This is who I am!"|
Ouija marks the directorial debut of Stiles White, who worked on The Possession. It’s painfully obvious that this film is done by a first time director because this horror film is weak-sauce (and yes, I just used the term "weak-sauce" to describe this film…I need to appeal to the youth). While the film has a pretty by-the-numbers story that works for what it needs to be and the acting in the film isn’t anything that is outright terrible (but none of it is really memorable either), the film suffers due to its incredibly lethargic pace,lack of any real foreboding atmosphere, and its unremarkable scares. Shit, even the jump scares just sort of slowly lumber into the story and can’t even offer up a single surprise that isn’t seen slowly coming a mile away.
|Okay, Ouija, I will give you this one. That is pretty darn creepy.|
|I can't remember what this character's name was so I |
just nicknamed her "Eyebrows."
The film opens very lazily as it weakly establishes the history Debbie has with the Ouija. Even Debbie’s suicide feels like it comes with no ceremony because the entire movie just sorta acts like it is going through the motions in order to make a generic, paint-by-numbers horror film. All the characters fit the prerequisite attributes you would expect to see in the film—including the ethnic character who is an expert on the supernatural and the crazy person who is still alive and is connect to the horrors of the hauntings somehow (played by Lin Shaye, no less…it’s like generic horror film Bingo here)—and the film’s story plays out exactly how you would expect. The film has no surprises nor is really bringing anything new to the genre. This isn’t necessarily the killer but the film’s slow moving pace and the fact the film feels like it is half-asleep during its entire running time is what makes this film completely forgettable and boringly un-terrifying in every way.
|Lin Shaye, I love you and want to hug you. You seem like a good hugger.|
|She looks less frightened and more mildly worried|
that she left a light on in the house when she left.
The only thing that really worked in this film was having Lin Shaye in a small role. Shaye is a very talented actress and she easily overshadows the younger members of the cast who are giving only as much effort as the director behind the camera is giving (which borders on Bare Minimum to No Fucks Given). Secondly, the film actually has a moment or two that is genuinely creepy and/or scary. Sadly, these moments are few and far between and way too much of the story is just these kids kinda lazily wander through their days and using the Ouija board to save their friend’s soul at night—it’s actually strange how these kids, who profess to miss and love their friend—have absolutely no sense of urgency about helping her out in the after life. Had the director handled making the story move fluidly, maybe giving the story a sense of urgency at points, there might have been a feeling that souls hung in the balance but, sadly, this wasn’t present at all.
|The ghoul isn't screaming to be scary, it stepped on a LEGO.|
Ouija is, basically, nothing special. Aside from one or two moments that were kinda cool with their creepiness, the film has no real scares to speak of and the film’s refusal to get up and get moving made the horror film a tedious task to take in.