Are you a fan of horror movies in which every character does the exact opposite of what a normal person would do? How about horror films where characters make the same mistakes over and over again, continuously believing that repeating their errors will somehow end up with a different result? Do Ouija boards freak you out? If you answered yes to these questions, then the PG-13 Ouija will be worth checking out once it hits DVD or cable.
Applying logic to any of the actions of characters in Ouija would be an exercise in futility. The 2014 horror film Ouija uses the creepiest board game in existence as fodder for a ridiculous teen scream flick that has minimal scares and is far too talky for its own good. Lame banter between teenagers who apparently do not have parents slows the pace to a slug’s and does nothing to disguise the fact there’s very little actually going on over the course of the film’s thankfully short 89 minutes.
Debbie (Shelley Hennig) and Laine (Olivia Cooke) have been BFFs since they were kids and for some reason even as youngsters they were really into their Ouija board. They played by the rules: never asking the board questions when they were by themselves, never playing in a graveyard, and always remembering to say good-bye to the board before putting it away when they were done. Fast forward from elementary to high school and Debbie’s agitated about something but Laine has no idea what it is. Debbie’s been playing the game by herself and whoever she’s communicating with doesn’t like it when she decides to say good-bye forever by burning the board. Shortly after Laine stops by to check on her, Debbie finds the board intact and in her bedroom. Instead of running shrieking from the house, she picks up the planchette and looks through it. Her eyeball rolls back in its socket, she plucks a string of lights from her wall, and proceeds to hang herself in the foyer. Bye, bye Debbie.
Days after Debbie’s funeral, Laine and some of Debbie’s friends decide the bright thing to do is to use the Ouija board at night, in the dark, in Debbie’s house (her parents took off on vacation because, you know, that’s what you do immediately after your only child kills herself) in order to find out why Debbie took her own life. The dumbest decision ever leads to the group contacting homicidal spirits in the house who would be best left undisturbed.
The Bottom Line:
Character development as well as logic have been tossed out the window, which would be okay if the number of actual frightening moments made you forget that you care nothing about any of the pretty teens who populate the film. But even the “jump scares” are telegraphed so far in advance that “twitch scares” would be a more accurate description.
Even if you’re passionate about dumb horror movies, Ouija is so by-the-numbers and predictable it’s not really the type of film you need to make the effort to go to a theater to check out. First-time director Stiles White’s rookie effort lacks style and he fails to understand that it takes more than actors reacting to noises in the dark to create a sufficiently creepy atmosphere. And, tacking on a series of false endings doesn’t help to up the fright level.
Making a movie about Ouija boards is actually a great idea. Unfortunately, this film wastes a frightening premise and is about as scary as an intense game of Candy Land.
Ouija is rated PG-13 for disturbing violent content, frightening horror images, and thematic material.
-By Rebecca Murray
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