Ouija – Film Review
Well, why stop now?
This is an appalling horror movie.
I’m not doing another unsexy sex movie. I’ve got access to porn.
TL;DR Olivia Cooke isn’t screen royalty, but goddamn, she deserved better than this. The story is slow, dumb, and predictable. As are the characters. Not even the jump scares elicit a good jump, so it’s a step below fucking Paranormal Activity. Ouch. 1 out of 5 stars.
“Maybe we’ll make the next one found footage.” -Disposable Executive.
So it’s a movie based on a board game (and those aren’t always that bad). A girl plays with a oujia board and rustles up some naughty spirits who used to live in her house. They possess her to hang herself. That’s where Laine (Bates Motel‘s Olivia Cooke), the dead girl’s best friend, comes in. She thinks it would be a great idea to use the ouija board to contact Dead Girl Debbie, and harangues her sister, her boyfriend, Debbie’s boyfriend, and her mildly Hispanic friend to participate. Bad spirits get rustled, instead, and the Final Destination wannabe slasher fest beings. Except it doesn’t. A small handful of extremely dissatisfying kills get overshadowed by some spirit medium backstory nonsense, and the spirit Laine thought was evil is actually good, and the good spirit is actually evil. The power of Being The Main Character eventually prevails, and Laine manages to save herself and her sister from the mean ghosts.
Too bad about your friends, though. Maybe you could say goodbye to them with the ouija board?
Like, I knew this was a guaranteed turd going in. I knew it was supposed to be unscary, studio slop. I mean, Platinum Dunes hasn’t really had a home run since the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and that was their very first film.
And I was even willing to forgive Olivia Cooke for the fatally banal The Quiet Ones (I didn’t review it because I couldn’t even be bothered watching the last ten minutes. That’s how drab it was: I struggled through over an hour of it, and with only ten minutes to go, I just didn’t want to). That’s how strong my Bates Motel good will is.
This is not the redemption she needed.
Why I hate this movie:
It just isn’t scary. Not once, not at all, did I feel scared. There isn’t even a good jump scare. There are jump scares, but none of them work, because Ouija is so committed to being as obvious and bland as possible.
The most insulting part of the entire production is how dissatisfying the kills are. If nothing else, you can usually rely on an assembly line teen horror like this to give you a couple of silly kills. But no, not Ouija. There are six main teens (and, thus, six target victims): Debbie, Laine, Sarah (Laine’s sister), Trevor (Laine’s boyfriend), Pete (Debbie’s boyfriend), and Mildly Hispanic. Of the six, only one (fucking one!) dies fully on-screen. Fucking. One.
That dubious honour goes to Mildly Hispanic, who is not only the most tangential character, but also has a rubbish death sequence. The bad spirit’s MO is crappy in the first place: they spook you with an unscary jump scare, then possess your body, which means you have no chance to escape. Wow. Much tension. For Mildly Hispanic, she gets levitated a few centimetres off her bathroom floor, then violently pitched forward so her head smashes against the sink, and she dies. That’s it. No drowning in the overfilled bath. No smashing against the mirror. Just a quick pop and drop.
Debbie’s hanging death is given a torso-down-only discretion shot.
Trevor falls into a pool and becomes entangled in the pool cover, but we don’t get to see him actually die.
And the greatest proof of all that Ouija is fundamentally retarded: Pete’s death. He dies off-screen. And they don’t tell us how. Are you fucking kidding? We don’t watch a Dead Teenager Movie to not see the teenagers die, Ouija. Jesus.
Matthew Settle aka Rufus from Gossip Girl gets about two scenes as Laine and Sarah’s dad. They also have a Hispanic maid. These two could have helped bolster the measly victim count. But no.
To get answers about Debbie’s house’s previous owners, Laine goes to find the surviving sister. Guess where she is? An asylum. Because Ouija isn’t happy to settle for just being boring: it has to be unoriginal, too.
Speaking of unoriginal, Laine goes to her Hispanic maid for advice on the supernatural. Yet another thing Paranormal Activity (and I’m talking the second one, which was awful) did earlier, and did better.
Ouija shows us the monster far too much. An evil spirit isn’t so spooky if we can see it coming.
Debbie’s spirit shows up randomly during the climax so she can save Laine.
Oh, and Debbie’s death is the only one until the 50 minute mark. So we can check off “pacing” on the “everything this movie did wrong” list. Actually, let’s just circle the “everything.”
But it’s not all bad:
Olivia Cooke is still Olivia Cooke. I think she might want to stop trying to force herself as a scream queen until some better horror scripts come her way. Stick to Bates, baby.
Debbie is played by Shelley Hennig. I liked her in The Secret Circle. And I also recently gave Teen Wolf a chance, and she does an okay job there. She does an okay job here, too.
Poor Lin Shaye appears as the asylum-bound sister of the dead little girl from Debbie’s house. At least Ouija makes Insidious: Chapter 2 look better by comparison.
The writers of this movie also wrote the average-but-okay The Possession. And the horrifyingly awful Knowing. And Boogeyman, which was pretty cool. Maybe you’ll get back on track next time?
There’s a fake-out with the pool that works pretty well. Trevor gets tasked with making sure the pool cover is in place early in the movie, and the framing and pacing of the scene makes it look like he’s about to die. He doesn’t. The callback for his actual death later was a nice touch.
Oh, and Ouija is colourful for a horror movie. I appreciated it.
It really is irredeemably awful. Even as the dick-sucking uber fan of Bates Motel that I am, I can’t condone this film’s existence. I’d rather Olivia Cooke be in no movie than be in this movie. Keep trying, baby. 1 out of 5 stars.