Ouija Origin of Evil: Surprisingly Perky Prequel to Horror Flop
Annalise BassoElizabeth Reaser...
In 1 Cinema
Many will be surprised to learn that the prequel to 2014’s poorly-received Ouija is actually a pretty entertaining supernatural horror that has both the story and the visuals to make it one of the surprises of the year. Taking on a retro-horror approach and taking on the classic possessed child narrative, Ouija: Origin of Evil is not entirely without fault, but is still a miles better than its predecessor.
Set in 1967, the film follows the story of Alice (Reaser); a widowed mother of two girls, teenager Paulina (Basso) and her younger sister, Doris (Wilson), who makes ends meet by working as a psychic. Making her money by performing fake séances for people who are looking to connect with the departed, Alice struggles to keep up with the bills while still trying to get over the death of her husband.
In order to try to give her business a boost, Alice decides buy an Ouija board, hoping that the new trend will lead to more customers. After accidentally awakening an evil presence in the house, though, both Alice and Paulina are shocked to see that Doris has developed the ability to talk to spirits and, in doing so, is able to help the family with the finances. However, it soon becomes increasingly clear that her newfound friends from the other side don’t exactly have anyone’s best interest at heart.
Providing superbly thought-out and soundly executed retro viewing – the director goes as far as inserting those little bleeps in the corner of the screen which indicate a reel change – everything about the movie, although not exactly innovative in terms of storyline and premise, feels surprisingly fresh and most important of all, engaging and entertaining as a result.
Going back to the very beginning of the story which portrays the early days of what was eventually to become a terrorising presence, the slow-build approach works and the audiences – who will appreciate the director’s 1960’s tinted and soft-focused visuals – are given enough time to truly sink their teeth into the story before the scares eventually kick in.
Proving that the little Damiens of this world – see Omen – don’t necessarily have to be boys, little Lulu Wilson delivers a powerful and an intensely unnerving performance as Doris, though both Reaser and Basso’s characters, although relatively solid, don’t feel as fleshed out as their younger co-star.
Nevertheless, the girls still manage to sell the premise well and thanks to their wonderful chemistry and family dynamic, as well as Flanagan’s steady hand in guiding the story to where it needs to go.