OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL is super creepy. And it has good amount of well-placed jump-scares to rattle even the toughest audiences. As a horror fan, I definitely enjoy this installment way better than its predecessor.
This is actually a prequel to the 2014 film, so they’re taking this story back to the beginning; how it all started, with the same house but 50 years earlier. Elizabeth Reaser is a single mom raising her two daughters played by Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson. They run a seance scam business to make a living but when they unwittingly invite an evil spirit into their home which then possesses the youngest daughter, this becomes the struggle to save her and drive the demon away.
There’s so much to like about OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL. Well, for one, it’s set in the ’60s, so that in and of itself provides a very interesting style in terms of the actors’ outfit and hair, it’s like watching ‘Mad Men’ all over again, I’ll never get over how much effort people put into the clothes they wear just to go to the supermarket back in that era. There’s also heart in this story, the kids lost their dad, the wife lost her husband, the priest lost his wife, and and so that hole in their souls forms a foundation for why each of them has a longing or desire to speak with their dead loved ones. The reason why they can be taken advantage of by the spirit, totally makes sense, because they are at the most vulnerable point in their lives and looking for answers, unable to let go.
And because this is a prequel, at the end you’ll see how the story and the characters connect to the previous installment, I won’t spoil it here for you, but you’ll be able to make that connection without a problem. I think what essentially makes OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL scary is Lulu Wilson’s character, Doris Zander. Horror genre has a history of little creepy kids doing bloody gory things on screen, but there’s something in Lulu’s performance in that she’s able to get your guard down, so when the frightening moments do come in, they become all the more effective. And unexpectedly, I might add. You’ll jitter, your pulse will keep pounding, you’ll close your eyes with your hands but with a few fingers open, and all the while you feel for the struggle of this family, you’re invested in them. OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL is one of this year’s best horror films in my book.
‘OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL’: Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
A prequel to the 2014 hit supernatural horror flick ‘OUIJA’; both films are based on the Hasbro ‘talking board’ game (and released by Hasbro Studios). This chapter tells the story of a widowed mother, and her two daughters, who scam people out of money by running a fake seance business (in 1967 Los Angeles). When the trio begins involving a Quija board in their ‘show’, one of the daughters becomes possessed and things begin to go horribly wrong. The movie was directed by Mike Flanagan, and it was written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard; the duo also performed the same duties on 2013’s ‘OCULUS’ (another supernatural horror flick). The film stars Annalise Basso (who also costarred in ‘OCULUS’), Elizabeth Reaser (of ‘TWILIGHT’ fame), Lulu Wilson and Henry Thomas (of ‘E.T.’ fame). It’s received surprisingly positive reviews from critics, and fans alike (mostly), and it’s also performed decently at the Box Office. While it is a better reviewed movie, than the original, it hasn’t done nearly as well financially speaking. It is a much better film though.
The story is set in a 1967 suburban home, in Los Angeles; where a widow, Alice Zander (Reaser), cons grieving customers out of their money, by running a staged seance. She has help from her two daughters; Paulina (Basso), a teenager, and Doris (Wilson), who’s 9- years-old. At a party with her friends, Paulina uses a Ouija board for the first time. She then convinces her mother to begin using it in their act. Real supernatural forces then begin haunting the house, and their ‘show’ becomes more than just a trick.
The film is definitely a lot better than the original movie, if I remember correctly (but I don’t remember that film that well, other than I didn’t like it). It’s also a lot better than ‘OCULUS’; I do remember that flick, and I wasn’t too impressed by it. This film is creepy, well acted and somewhat nostalgic; it’s very reminiscent of other horror films from decades ago. It’s definitely a lot better than I expected it to be.
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Ouija: Origin of Evil is a swingin’ sixties prequel to the 2014 horror movie and sleeper hit Ouija. Its predecessor has a mere 6% on rotten tomatoes, but had tremendous financial success. The budget was an estimated $5 million, and by December, 2014, the film had grossed almost $51 million. Obviously, the next step is to plan a sequel.
I was fortunate enough to attend a pre-screening. Basing my expectations off the 2014 Ouija, I was ready to be bored and disappointed. Boy was I in for a surprise.
The film opens with a mother and her two daughters performing a scam séance for a grieving man and his skeptical daughter. The first part of the film delivers a steady stream of laughs and starts on a light-hearted note. This mood only continues when the oldest daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) sneaks out, looking suitably 60’s, and plays with a ouija board along with her friends. Then things, as they often do in horror movies, turn for the worst. In an effort to spice up their séance scam, Lina’s mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) buys a ouija board. Doing so then causes the youngest girl, Doris (Lulu Wilson) to become possessed, no surprises here.
What happens next, however, is one of the scariest horror movies made in a while– but when the director and writer is Mike Flanagan, you expect nothing less. Flanagan, director and writer for films such as Hush, Oculus, and Absentia, knows what he’s doing. The whole theatre was on the edge of their seats. People shifting to hide their face or cover their ears was a constant sound, and the scares delivered genuine screams. Once the horror starts, the 99 minute film never lets you take a breather.
The main person to thank for this is Lulu Wilson, the youngest daughter. This girl is only 11 and she carried the film from start to finish. Her malevolent intensity and purposeful movements made even the toughest members of the audience uncomfortable. To be blunt, she’s creepy AF and steals every scene. One in particular involving a basement, hole in the wall, and a menacing Doris standing behind a poor soul comes to mind. To say any more would spoil the movie, but this film has its share of jump scares, unexpected frights, and a delightful retro tone through out. Various moments feel like homages to horror classics of the 60’s and 70’s. The film will also appeal to fans of recent horror films Oculus and The Conjuring.
Another aspect often neglected in horror films is the human aspect. The small rag- tag family is reeling from the lost of a husband and father. The grief feels genuine, as does the hope and tentative joy they feel when the ouija board and Doris seem to be contacting her deceased father. The film is both horrifying and tragic. The ending evokes equal parts screams and empathy for this ailing family.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fresh horror movie to deliver a punch–you’re in luck. Outstanding performances by all the actors, a fantastically creepy little girl, and a retro vibe create a film that will stand the test of horror time.Perhaps the most shocking and surprising treat of the 2016 Halloween season is director Mike Flanagan’s prequel tale “Ouija: Origin of Evil”- a skillfully crafted, tasteful and highly atmospheric follow- up to the disastrously bad 2014 thriller “Ouija.” It’s frankly stunning just how good a film Flanagan was able to build from such a poor foundation, weaving a tale that honestly not only runs laps around it’s far inferior predecessor… but honestly made me completely forget about what came before. In my mind, “Ouija” will be a forgotten victim of studio greed, while this prequel will stand tall as the “true” film based on the iconic and controversial board-game of terror.
In the 1960’s, widow Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) works as a fortune teller out of her home, staging false séances with the help of her teenage daughter Paulina (Annalise Basso) and younger child Doris. (Lulu Wilson) After purchasing a Ouija board as a new gimmick for her work, Alice does not notice that Doris has become overtaken by a deranged and mysterious force associated with the board, instead believing that her young daughter’s newfound abilities and knowledge of things she could not possibly know are signs that unlike her, Doris is a real medium. However, as Doris’ abilities become gradually all the more powerful and sinister, Alice and Paulina must band together to try and break her free from the devious spirits of the past that have taken ahold of her physical form…
Flanagan directs from a script co-written by Jeff Howard, and much like his wonderful previous efforts “Oculus” and “Hush”, here he continues to shine as one of the finest new voices in horror. There’s a certain sense of taste and thoughtfulness he injects into his work, as he takes his time to try and establish strong character and interpersonal relationships, in addition to identifiable human drama which helps to accentuate the fear that builds. He also just knows how to deliver a darned good scare- a skill he uses expertly throughout the entire runtime here to build a great sense of foreboding dread.
The performances are all stellar as well, helping to add to the film’s high quality and impact. Elizabeth Reaser is fantastic as the mother Alice, and you really get a feel for a person lost after the death of their beloved spouse who is trying to hold it together for the sake of her children. Wilson is a great new Doris and does remarkably well for an actress of such a young age. Supporting roles by the likes of Henry Thomas are all uniformly strong and help to round out the cast in likable performances. And Annalise Basso steals the show as Paulina (also known as “Lina”), who becomes our main focus and is a strong presence on-screen. At only 17 years old, Basso is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. She possesses talent far beyond her years, and is the beating heart of the film as a sister and daughter struggling to help her sibling and mother from the forces at play- both supernatural and emotional.
The film does falter at times a bit, which is where it loses points. Despite the first film being decidedly very poor by comparison, this film does a bit of distracting ret-con work that may bother those who are familiar with the original. Some major details of the backstory and rules are changed, which made it feel a bit inorganic as a continuation. It’s also a bit too heavy on the scares up- front, which lessened their impact. I would have preferred more slow a buildup. And it does lack some drama since this is a prequel and you’ll be able to guess some of what happens based on this fact.
Still, that cannot stop this from being a darned good and very well- assembled supernatural horror. It’s not one of the best horror films ever made by any means, but it’s a solid and highly entertaining thriller boasting some heart, some good scares and a great cast. This is the movie you’ve been waiting for if you’ve wanted to see a movie based around the idea of the dreaded Ouija board. My advice? Skip out on the first film and just watch this as a stand-alone. It’s far more rewarding an experience than the awful original could ever hope to be.
I give “Ouija: Origin of Evil” a strong 8 out of 10. If you’re open minded, be sure to give it a shot, especially if the last one let you down. Take it from me… this is a very pleasant surprise.
Went in with an open mind with this one…i will say now that I am not a 14 year old who would be scared of something on the kiddies channel..I am a fully grown up with 50 years of movie watching under my belt. EVERYTHING about this movie is wrong and it would mean me going on for 20 paragraphs like some reviewers to explain them all…but here is a few..
PLOT! wrong and insipid
ACTING..wrong and wooden
DIRECTION..wrong and lazy
CINEMATOGRAPHY..wrong and boring
Cliché COUNT..wrong and too much..sewn up mouths..rolling eyes..ouija boards..nice vicars…cursed children..all seen a million times before in a million movies..the list goes on..
Also I had a slight uneasy feeling about the director and his choice of camera work concerning the 2 young girls..found it a tad disturbing at times..
This movie puts horror back about 50 years…nothing made any sense and some parts were silly beyond words..
Of course there was a few daft teenagers jumping in the theatre but thats never a good sign for true horror fans.
Put this up with last years excellent ” Babadook” and the difference is big as it gets…strangely enough I would compel you to see it as it is an education in how not to mess about with a century old genre! I will not…WILL NOT ..be going to the next 2 sequels…not even if you paid me.
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