Now a rule in the horror genre, and actually all of cinema, sequels and sometimes prequels suck, simply stated, but a few do outshine the first, namely Godfather Part II (1974), clearly a superior movie, but when horror does it’s a rarity, which brings us to Mike Flanagan who directed the film and co-wrote with Jeff Howard. Mike, who incidentally, is from Salem, Massachusetts, ideally the right person to head up an occult movie (merely joking), but he directed two other movies in 2016 – Hush and Before I Wake, and just completed the horror thriller Gerald’s Game (2017). This movie listed as following the previous dullish film Ouija, though more of a prequel either way shocked the audiences off their seats and money, working from a budget of $9 million and grossed $79 million in the theaters alone, an impressive win for the Universal Pictures released flick. In fact Mike is on a hot streak, with re-imaging of Shirley Jackson’s classic 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House, likely one of the best ghost stories of all time, for a Netflix original series.
First, no need to see or know anything about part one, forget about it completely, this movie takes an opposite direction into frightful moments. Conveying a story filled with scares, an emotional heartstring tugging, the care about the character both in the movie and from the viewers, telling of a needed backstory. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) not just a con artist, she believes she’s a part of the healing process, still aching as well as her daughters for emotional and financial support from the loss of her husband. Once the introduction of the Ouija board everything changes into a very spooky overtone, Flanagon doesn’t wait too long before bringing the device, jus t the right amount of timing, showing his experience. The movie informs of three rules (none actually exists) but so believable many of them implemented into the lore of using the spirit board. Those rules, never play alone, don’t use in a graveyard, and always say “goodbye”; all three of them violated. Things take a dramatic turn involving Doris (Lulu Wilson) and the sinister vibes begin building quickly pulling the family into turmoil, but mother not noticing it fast enough. She’s enthralled her communicating with her husband and girl’s daddy, and now she contains the ability of some devilish deeds and movements. Meanwhile Lina (Annalise Basso), more willingly to believe that everything just isn’t good, and danger setting up in the household, faster than any uninvited in-law overstaying their welcome. Throughout the flick, natural scares occur, from the loud customary bangs recalled from The Haunting (1963) to frightful low tone moans and loud unexpected screams all causing one to jump and stay nervous long after the movie ends.
The movie deployed certain techniques, of the early 70s to achieve the authentic shots, using antique lenses, scene fades, and camera zooms, than the preferred steadicams, also extended that further by implementing dust on the negative, subtle warping of the audio track, and many wonderful old-school elements. All characters given depth and well developed, giving the actors lots of information allowing them to explore that sense of loss and the desire to reconnect a basic emotion. The writers understood the emotional connections of love and loss, it makes the character more accepted by audiences and allows for more scares, again understand the psychological works for better scenes and more interesting stories than merely slash and stab movies. In addition, the set design works well and lures the audience in deeper for scares and created and storyline to work well with both teens and adults for the PG-13 rating, which didn’t reduce the emotional level, because everyone young and old have attended a funeral or at least loss someone they cared for deeply. Flanagan generated honest scares, none of the cheap jump scene scares, which only encourage repeat watching from the audience, and thereby generating a new Halloween favorite.
If you desire a thrilling scary ride, than Ouija: Origin of Evil definitely is the movie to watch with lights out, and bowl of popcorn, and with someone with either loves horror films or a complete scaredy-cat. There’s no bucket of gore or splattering of blood, rather just a good solid scary movie, finally time to rejoice with screams and shouts!