Ouija: Origin of Evil is a sequel that has a great premise but doesn’t quite know what to do with it.
The Ouija films have taken a creative horror idea that arguably does not deserve to become a franchise, and made it into one. Maybe real-life board games aren’t the best antagonists for scary movies. Ouija boards may be too commonplace to be too believably scary.
Beyond the “meh” plot, the casting is spot on, particularly Lulu Wilson, who plays Doris, an impressively creepy demon child. Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso play the widowed mother and older daughter, respectively, and the fortune-telling family tries to connect with their recently deceased patriarch with the help of the ouija board.
The game instead connects with demons haunting their house, and Doris becomes their creepy conduit. The family is Catholic, and the girls’ principal (Henry Thomas) Father Tom notices the demonic tormenting, but the Catholicism is another wasted horror opportunity that the film neglects to utilize effectively, and at one point the film flirts with the idea of an exorcism, but it is just another plot letdown.
The best part of the film is its re-creation of the 1960s with period fashion and vernacular, and it serves as an aesthetically pleasing prequel to the first Ouija film. Little demonic Doris has a creepy future ahead of her in the franchise’s timeline.
You won’t be easily scared by this film, however, and it offers little in the scare department beyond attempted jumpy moments. The demons visible through the ouija board’s lens piece are not particularly frightening, though the house’s haunted secret (it involves Nazis) is a fun one. Maybe too fun, because now I want to see a movie about the house’s history.
If the Ouija creators are intent on making a third film to complete a trilogy, hopefully they choose to make a prequel of the prequel. The inanimate house’s history is the creepiest part of the film’s world.
Contemptor grade: 6
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.