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Ouija: Origin Of Evil Review

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2014’s Ouija was awful. I’m not going to mince my words here. It was a lazy, cliched cheapo horror bereft of any scares, that angered me even further, because of the fact that horror movies make money no matter what, that it would be the beginning of a new franchise. And make money it did, $103 million of a $5 million budget in fact. So here we are with Ouija: Origin of Evil, which as the title suggests sheds light on the back story of the Zander house and the malicious spirits that haunt it. I was girding myself for another slog through the worst the horror genre has to offer. Or so I thought, because director Mike Flanagan (Occulus) threw me one hell of a curveball, delivering an endlessly entertaining, schlocky ride that, while far from perfect, feels like something of a do-over for the series.


It’s the swinging Sixties, and Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser), along with her daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson), runs a fortune telling scam intended to help people with dealing with the death of loved ones, spurred on by the loss of her own husband. When Alice buys a Ouija board to incorporate into her act, she unwittingly summons an evil spirit who latches onto the eight year old Doris and begins a campaign of terror which threatens the entire family.

Kicking off with the old Universal logo, it’s clear to see that Flanagan has gone above and beyond to give this movie an old school sheen that goes a long way to add to it’s charm. It’s not just the costumes and set design, the main title evokes movies from the 60’s and 70’s (The Omen is definitely a big influence here), as well as some of the flourishes cinematographer Michael Fimognari employs to build tension and atmosphere. Flanagan even brings back the cue dots used by projectionists to judge when to change the reels back when everything was 35mm, putting the cherry on top of the old school look. It’s a loving homage to classic horror movies that feels much more than a gimmick. Mixing it in with a modern polish, it helps keep the audience uneasy as the supernatural shit begins to hit the fan. The story does take it’s time with the set-up, but it is needed to build up the characters and back story, and when Doris does start to exhibit the tried and trusted creepy kid traits, Flanagan shifts into high gear and doesn’t let up until the end credits roll, bar an incredibly awkward info dump in the middle which threatens to derail proceedings. Flanagan isn’t afraid to employ a number of jump scares, but they don’t feel as cheap as they usually do, and they will genuinely unnerve you alongside some great use of practical and digital effects. I will admit Flanagan does lose the run of himself in the third act, going a bit overboard with the freakiness (Doris’ demonic look, complete with gaping maw, soon becomes unintentionally hilarious) and capping things off with a strange finale that is both soppy and down beat. But, god damn it, it’s still entertaining and there are more than often moments in here to put your heart in the back of your throat.


For such a young actress, Wilson throws herself into role of Doris, creating a memorable addition to the horror genre's extensive roster of evil kids. When not augmented by effects, she puts in a genuinely spooky performance, all dead pan and emotionless delivery, and has a real knack for creating some truly darkly funny moments. Reaser and Basso put in fine performances, but their character arcs stretch credibility at times, merely because this is a prequel and they already have a set destination to get to.

Just because the first movie was so bad, I consider Ouija: Origin of Evil one of the best horror sequels of recent years. It has it’s fair share of problems, but it gives a series that everyone had written off a new shot in the arm, and considering Halloween is right around the corner, this is the perfect slice of entertainment for horror fans.






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The Movie Bit: Ouija: Origin Of Evil Review
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