‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is a horror prequel to the 2014 film ‘Ouija’ in which a group of friends play around with a Ouija board which results in a flurry of supernatural activity. A similar premise leads into this film where after a young girl decides to mess with a Ouija board she unleashes the powers within and not everything goes so well. Unfortunately this film doesn’t continue the trend of fantastic 2016 horror films but it is by no means a bad film. If you break this film up into two sections, the first hour of the film was very slow, spent a long time letting us in on a lot of backstory we didn’t need and wasn’t all that captivating. The following 30 minutes of the film however was fast paced, captivating, intense, chilling, and full of terrifying imagery with really good use of silence and sound design. Capped off with a fantastic performance this movie definitely had its fair share of both highs and lows.
Early on in this film it was beginning to head down the path of being a very by the numbers, cliche horror film that was going to be very very predictable. And for the first hour or so of the film i was just waiting for something to grab me and suck me into the horror of the film. They had spent more then enough time establishing characters and backstories and now they just needed something of substantiality to happen in order to bring me back on board as i felt it dragging. There were a couple moments of levity here and there that were fine whether they were intentional or not… probably not but it was a small highlight. And after a few failed scares early on due to very very poor implementation of sound design the film does a 180 and finishes off almost as strongly as it could.
It was as if someone knocked some sense into Director Mike Flanagan and he all of a sudden produced some seriously terrifying content that is replicated all throughout the film would have been fantastic. Clever use of shooting techniques to highlight creepy imagery and mixing that with a good use of sound design and very well disguised jumpscares made the minutes to follow very entertaining. I was most definitely on the edge of my seat this whole time as they scared me in ways i thought this film would never have been able to do especially after seeing how it was tracking early on. What i’m saying is that this film shocked me and scared me more times in that 30 minute sequence than in entire horror films from last year. And for a horror film to offer so many surprises can only be a huge compliment in todays modern horror genre.
The performances in the film were some very high and some just fine. Lulu Wilson who played the little girl in the film ‘aka’ the subject of another possession was incredible in the role. She did a fantastic job at bringing the creepy to the role with fantastic line delivery and use of facial expressions to make you very uneasy. And the strength of her performance only grew as the film went on. As for the mother and sister played by Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso respectively i thought they did a serviceable job in their roles. At times i thought they could dial it back a few notches but i’ve got no real complaints there. The film would have finished off very strong had it ended 5 minutes earlier or opted for an alternate ending as the way they chose to handle it didn’t work. It just didn’t fit with the way the film was panning out, and you may say it is a sign of originality but without anything leading up to it, it just felt very random.
But in the end ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ was decisively better than i expected it to be but definitely not as good as the other 2016 horror releases so far, which isn’t so much of a criticism as we’ve had some real quality horror films so far. A strong 30 minute portion of the film elevates it way above what it would have been had it progressed at its earlier pace. Despite the slow build up i would say Ouija: Origin of Evil is a good time in the theatre and you will get plenty of good scares out of it, most of which are compacted into one section.
‘Ouija: Origin of Evil releases in theatres this Thursday the 20th of October in Australia.