Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ouija: Origin of Evil review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Something is wrong with Doris in Ouija: Origin of Evil

            Wow, talk about a movie that completely surpassed everyone’s expectations, the 2014 horror movie, Ouija, produced by Michael Bay (Transformers franchise, I Am Number Four, The Purge trilogy) and Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity franchise, Oculus, The Gift), and based on the Hasbro board game was notorious for its critic reviews at the time of its release. They as well as audiences flat-out despised the movie, earned a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but brought in the box-office receipts during its theatrical run.
            Seeing how Michael Bay, Hasbro, and Universal Studios are complete money whores, it makes perfect sense to do a follow-up to the movie, financially. In comes, Ouija: Origin of Evil, a prequel to the first film with Bay and Blum returning as producers, but with Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus, Hush) replacing Stiles White as the director.
            I appreciate Mike Flanagan’s work with Oculus, but I was ready to hate this movie when I saw the trailer, I’ve never seen the first movie due to the reviews literally “Scaring” me away from it. But really, what could you do with this movie? A prequel to Ouija, a movie produced by Michael Bay that nobody liked.
            Well, I assume Bay, Blum, and the rest of the producers and writers must have listened to the complaints people gave regarding the first movie, and decided to put two things into the production that Michael Bay normally doesn’t think about “THOUGHT AND EFFORT!”. The result, a legitimately chilling and entertaining scary movie, and it helps that you don’t even have to watch the dreaded predecessor to appreciate this one.
            The film works as a prequel to the first movie, if you’ve seen it, and as a standalone horror movie. Since I haven’t seen Ouija prior to this, I was able to come in with a fresh mind and let the movie surprise me.
            The movie follows a single mother named Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser-The Twilight Saga, Young Adult, Hello, My Name is Doris) who works as a fortune teller in her suburban home. She hosts séances that, unknown to her customers are staged by Alice and her two daughters, Lina (Annalise Basso-The Red Road, Constantine, Captain Fantastic) and Doris (Lulu Wilson).
            When Alice decides to purchase an Ouija board for her job, Doris starts to play with it, thus causing a lot of supernatural activity to go amuck. Doris begins communicating with spirits, one of which is supposedly her dead father and Alice’s husband, Roger, when suddenly she gets possessed by a spirit one night and Alice and Lina realize that something is wrong with her.
            It’s up to Alice and Lina to extract the spirit from Doris’ body and get their little girl back before it becomes a family haunting.
            Overall, Ouija: Origin of Evil is a solid horror movie, it delivers supernatural scares, atmosphere, and pacing. The movie doesn’t jump straight to its scares, but rather takes its time to develop the characters and make you grow attached to them, and for a horror movie to do that that’s an accomplishment.
            Most horror movie characters are usually stock characters and stereotypes who are there just to die, instead you feel for the mother and older daughter and you want them to succeed in lifting the spirit from the little girl. I cared for these characters a lot more than any of the characters from Platinum Dunes horror projects before.
I thought the characters were more effective in the movie than the actual scares in the film, which, while they’re not bad by any means, the scares are pretty generic, it doesn’t do much new with supernatural terror. But it kind of feels like an homage to classic horror and ghost movies like The Exorcist, Carrie, Poltergeist, and The Haunting, there’s even a little bit of Nightmare on Elm Street in there, and that’s always welcome.
            Ouija: Origin of Evil doesn’t stand as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, but it shows that even when a movie is bad, the follow-up can be a huge improvement. The film alone allowed me to be more open-minded towards follow-ups to movies I didn’t like, especially Michael Bay productions, I hope he takes notes from what worked in this movie when Transformers: The Last Knight comes out.
            Not to say all of Bay’s movies are bad, despite people giving him a lot of crap in his career, but it seems like whenever his name is slapped onto something, even when he’s producing, there always seems to be a lot of backlash towards it. He is known for directing and producing critically panned movies, but he is capable of pulling off a miracle once in a while, and 2016 is without a doubt a strong year for Michael Bay productions.

            This is the go-to scary flick for Halloween, if you haven’t seen the first movie, skip it, and just watch Origin of Evil, you won’t be disappointed.

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