DVD Review - Ouija: Origin of Evil

This is the prequel to Ouija (2014), a movie that is based on a board game. It wasn't the first movie based on a board game. There was Clue (1985) and Battleship (2012). It probably won't be the last board-game movie. This movie, however, is probably the first prequel or even sequel to a board-game movie. This might automatically diminish the movie on paper, but the film was placed in the hands of Mike Flanagan, a horror film director who's still relatively new to the scene but has proven himself in league with the likes of Wes Craven or John Carpenter. He's not there yet, but he's got a good eye and good instincts.

The board game is just a gimmick. It's incidental to the plot. Arguably, it's a catalyst for what becomes a haunted house and demon-possession film the likes of which aren't new. The movie plays with the idea of religious belief versus skepticism. That idea is abruptly dropped. It would have been interesting to have explored or delved into that idea, but that's not really the case here.

Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight and Young Adult) stars as Alice Zander, a Fortune Teller in 1967 who believes in an afterlife but is intentionally tricking people that she's a medium who can talk to ghosts. She's kind of like Whoopi Goldberg's character in Ghost (1990). Annalise Basso (Oculus and Captain Fantastic) co-stars as Lina, the eldest daughter who doesn't believe in the afterlife. When paranormal things happen, it's Lina and her mom who debate whether the afterlife is real. Again, that debate is eventually dropped.

Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us From Evil and The Millers) also co-stars as Doris, the youngest daughter who becomes the conduit for many evil spirits. She starts out as just an innocent, little blonde who wants to talk to her deceased dad, but later morphs into an object of absolute terror. She's like a cross between Carol Anne from Poltergeist (1982) and Regan from The Exorcist (1973).

Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan goes further than those two films in that the ending here is a bit more nihilistic. A twinge of hope comes in the way of a priest, Father Tom Hogan, played by Henry Thomas (E.T.: Extra Terrestrial and Gangs of New York), but that hope is quickly dashed. As with most slasher flicks, it becomes about watching each person be picked off one by one. At least, in Flanagan's Oculus, the viewer walks away with a strong, central theme conveyed. This movie is instead more about the mechanics of delivering us to the doorstep of the previous movie, much like Rogue One - A Star War Story did.

Not that logic should enter into this, but the motives of the so-called evil spirits are never clear. Allegedly, the evil spirits have existed in the same house as Alice, Lina and Doris for years, yet only now do they attack and only in specific ways at some time and then it's never clear how many spirits there are and never do good spirits emerge.

Parker Mack who plays Lina's love interest Mikey is cute though, despite being nothing more than a dumb victim.

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, terror and thematic elements.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.


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