(dir. Stiles White)
*First time viewing
After their friend’s apparent suicide, a group of teenagers try to communicate with her through a Ouija board, but they make contact with something else.
Admittedly, my expectations for Ouija weren’t very high. But since a sequel is in the works with Mike Flanagan (of Oculus fame) stepping in as screenwriter and director, I felt I had to see this first entry. The problem with Ouija isn’t the concept. It’s a generic horror movie, with a generic plot consisting of friends getting picked off one by one Final Destination style, but even those kind of movies can be fun. The acting is fine, nothing special (I do love Olivia Cooke, and she tries with what little she’s given.) Even the fact that no one seems to know how a Ouija board works except for the Hispanic housekeeper (because of course) is embarrassingly out-of-touch but not a deal breaker. What makes Ouija such a chore to sit through is that it is entirely devoid of life in everything from its emotional arcs, its dialogue, and most damning: it’s jump scares.
I don’t have a problem with jump-scare centric horror movies, or even PG-13 ones, but Ouija is so PG-13 it hurts. It is entirely incapably of handling any aspect of the film with a maturity deserving of audiences who have seen countless horror films. The way the characters are written to react to the death of their friends and significant others is with such casual disinterest that’s impossible to care about the supposedly life and death horror the film is centered around. The jump scares are so limp that many of them are laughable and telling of how uninterested the film is in pushing boundaries (a rolling shopping cart is one of these “jump-scares”.) After an OK opening, there’s absolutely no sense of tension and as a result the movie just slowly deflates as the actors try their best to hold it up around them.
Scare Factor: 0.5/5 There’s a great horror movie that could be made out of the Ouija board game, but this isn’t it. I’m holding out hope that Flanagan can bring some of his imagination and style to the sequel when it hits next year.