Move That Planchette: Ouija Doesn't Spell Out S-C-A-R-Y
You don’t need me to tell you that Ouija is a bad movie. You knew it would be terrible from the moment you read about this film’s existence. Girl, you know it’s true. I’m going to tell you anyway.
Ouija’s filmmakers unironically appropriated a Hasbro party game and figured they could easily scare the holy hell out of teenagers. Coming from someone who’s been craving scary movies all month, Ouija is less frightening than a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders. The one slightly unsettling moment in Ouija is a throwback to a much better movie. That is to say, Ouija does to dental floss what Poltergeist II did for braces. Other than that brief moment where I optimistically thought, “Oh, this will be the best kill of the movie” (I wasn’t wrong, but that’s not saying much), Ouija relies on jump scares to get the job done. Doors slam, lights flicker, and a stove turns on all by itself. People scream a lot, and there is a sh-tload of needless exposition in this PG-13 excuse for a horror movie.
Onto to the movie’s namesake. If you’ve ever played with one of these gadget-y spirit boards, you know that some a-hole in the group always nudges the planchette to mess with everyone else. Then everyone gets spooked in a moment of “what if it’s real?” and goes home to a bad dream. Or you worried whilst brushing your teeth that Bloody Mary will appear in the mirror before having a bad dream. End of story.
Ouija follows the aftermath of a teenage girl’s death. Debbie (Claire Beale) was violating rule #1 by playing with a spirit board all by her lonesome. Her BFF, Laine (Olivia Cooke) wants to prove that her friend did not kill herself; so Laine and her buddies try to contact dead Debbie to find out what the hell happened. Of course, the seance doesn’t work out as planned, but they do wake something up. An evil spirit starts sending all of the friends creepy messages outside of the Ouija-board setting. “Hi friend!” is the greeting from this not-so-friendly spirit. Then come the requisite deaths. I was sort of relieved that these whiny characters started dying because they wouldn’t stop talking. Like, they’re dropping off one-by-one, and these kids just keep on talking. They climb into their own navels and just keep on yammering. Oh, and they google some sh-t too. Because even Wes Craven (not affliated here) has fallen into the trap of replacing suspense and all logic with the marvels of technology.
As far as horror leads go, Cooke acquits herself well and functions as the least annoying cast member. She’s stuck in a stupid movie with rote dialogue and manufactured scares. Laine is the main character, so she plays detective as everyone else dies. She does all the stupid horror movie things like crawling into tombs and attics. There’s a sort-of explanation for the spiritual happenings in this movie, but I shouldn’t spoil everything. Although I’m sure as hell tempted to do so.
Ouija doesn’t work to deliver genuine scares. The filmmakers have done little to establish atmosphere beyond spooky lighting and loud noises. This movie’s only function is to boost Hasbro board game sales this Halloween season. If this movie had aimed for horror comedy, then Ouija would have had great potential to amuse. People love laughing at nostalgic elements of childhood. Some of us would love to reflect upon how hilariously over-the-top we all acted while huddled over hunks of plastic at slumber parties. But Ouija plays things all too solemnly. That’s no fun at all. Burn the board!
Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found at Celebitchy.
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