Ouija: Origin of Evil
by Lisa Dib
This movie is a complicated beast. On the one hand, it hits on a lot of well-worn horror tropes; on the other hand, it has some genuinely creepy visual effects and jump scares. There’s no such thing as a perfect movie (well, except Singin’ in the Rain), but Ouija: Origin of Evil puts in a decent effort at freaking you the hell out.
Set some fifty years before its predecessor (2014’s Ouija) Origin of Evil follows Elizabeth Reaser (Young Adult, the Twilight movies) as widowed fake-fortune teller Alice and her two daughters, slightly rebellious teen Paulina (Annalise Basso, Oculus, Bedtime Stories) and sweet-but-sad young’un Doris (Lulu Wilson, Deliver Us From Evil). Alice is a shonky fortune teller trying to get by, and the family is shaken up when she purchases a fun new prop for the ‘act’ - a Ouija board. Of course, you can imagine where they is heading. Doris becomes a medium of sorts, communicating with the dead (including her deceased father), before turning into a horrifying conduit for upset spirits.
There’s a couple of unnecessary plot devices slotted in that don’t come to much; the inclusion of the principal of the girls’ school, a priest named Father Tom (played by Henry Thomas, who played Elliot in E.T!) who has a dead wife and the affections of Alice, despite his collar (he’s a priest, did she expect they would hook up?), doesn’t do much for the story and honestly could have been eliminated altogether; the story of the spirits that infect Doris is also a little on-the-nose and somewhat hackneyed, but fine, really.
The visual effects are very much the highlight of the film. The various contortions of Doris as she is controlled and upset by angry ghosts are pretty creepy; some are even half-hidden in the background, forcing you to look out for moments of terror, instead of expecting them. This was an incredibly successful scare-tool in The Woman in Black, and more horror films would be wise to take it up. The film definitely also takes a few notes from The Exorcist, although Doris doesn’t get nearly as grotesque as Linda Blair. Although the idea of Ouija boards might seem a little rusty as a horror device now, the film goes in some interesting directions with it, and there’s a lot of good fright moments to keep you on your toes.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is out now.