“Ouija”: not as bad as you’d expect

After the first “Ouija” movie, I didn’t really expect for there to be a second film. That trope-fest received abysmal reviews, but it must have done well at the box office, because we now have “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” I will say that the sequel surpassed the first in quality, but it still feels wholly unnecessary. Remember when Rihanna was in “Battleship” and everyone was like, “why did they make a movie about a board game?” This is like that, except the sequel.

“Origin of Evil” follows a mother, Alice, and her two daughters, Doris and Lina, who operate a fake séance business out of their home. To bolster business, Alice buys a Ouija board and soon discovers that the board can be used to summon real spirits. Alice gets a little too excited about business, and when Doris uses the board alone one day, hijinks ensue. And by hijinks I mean the evil ghost of a holocaust survivor.

Then things get a little complicated. Horror cliches accumulate and puddle. It felt like an entire season of American Horror Story stuffed into 90 minutes: we’ve got your mental hospital, your creepy kids laughing, your priest promising an exorcism, your secret dungeon, your haunted house.

The movie provides a lot of exposition, yet never really explains the evil spirits or the possession in a way that is satisfactory. It kind of seems like the writers knew there was a plot hole, and said “let’s just stick some Nazis in there.”

The writers did make an attempt to build an emotional connection with the audience. However, this connection consisted of nothing except mentioning “my husband’s tragic death” or the fact that “Doris has trouble making friends” every few minutes. I was getting pretty bored during the first half of the movie, and was focusing more on the 60’s style wardrobes and the too-earnest acting than the plot. The movie could have been about 30 minutes shorter and packed the same punch, both emotionally and in terms of scares.

All of this being said, “Ouija” really isn’t that bad for a franchise based on a premise that is essentially nothing. I was surprised by how much I liked it. Over-the-top? Yes. Derivative? Absolutely. But bad? I don’t think so. But still, maybe it’s good to enter with low expectations. Some horror movies stick with me; I think about them for weeks afterward and am afraid to leave my bed at night. “Ouija” is not one of those movies. It’s more of a passing scare. There are some great jump scares, spooky music and creepy effects, but no lasting psychological terror, no nightmares to report. 2 out of 5 stars.

Photo courtesy of Screen Rant.

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