Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

6:18 AM

No Telling What You'll See.
 Ouija: Origin of Evil is directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) and stars Elizabeth Reaser (The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn: Part 2, Young Adult), Annalise Basso (Oculus, Captain Fantastic) and Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us From Evil, The Millers). "In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by a merciless spirit, the family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side". The first Ouija is known as one of the worst horror films ever made, surely the sequel has to be better?

Who knew a series could have such a turn around? From someone who was firmly in the dislike camp of the first Ouija, I was not looking forward to this film at all - the first film was more funny than scary. The trailers for 'Origin of Evil' didn't look much better either and then the reviews hit....and they were very very positive. Not only does Origin of Evil join the majority of horrors that have been acclaimed in 2016 but from someone who still wasn't convinced, it was actually very good! Ouija: Origin of Evil is more creepy than scary but it will definitely make you feel a little uneasy. The award for 'biggest improvement' definitely goes to Ouija: Origin of Evil. 

This is something rare I notice and doesn't really get a whole section dedicated to it in a review but the stylisation of Ouija 2 was absolutely brilliant - some of the best styling and theming I have seen all year. The film starts with the old Universal introduction and it continues on with period features - from the title design of the film to the black spots that appear throughout - this all makes it feel that this film was actually made and took place in the 60s. I can't praise the theming of Ouija: Origin of Evil enough - the first film was a bog standard film that took place in modern day where a group of teens discovered a board game - Ouija 2 plays on that fact but as it takes place in a time where this board game was relatively new, its dangers and powers were unknown to the public. Ouija: Origin of Evil has many good things about it but the styling is definitely the strongest element. A very well thought out and made horror in terms of the technical elements. 

The performances are also very strong - nobody stands out as being bad and everyone does a really good job. Elizabeth Reaser fits perfectly into the world of the 60s the film has created and I think she convincingly plays a fortune teller - Reaser's performance has some similarities to Eva Green in Peculiar Children and that is a big compliment! The young female actor from Oculus is in Ouija 2 and I am pleased she got to be more in the limelight this time as Annalise Basso does a good job - she does have her weak moments but her performance is generally very good. Basso is around the same age as the actors in the first Ouija and her performance was definitely better than any of theres. However, the star of the show was definitely Lulu Wilson who follows 2016's trend of good child actors. Wilson is very creepy - this is important as the film relies on her and I actually can't believe someone her age had the ability to come across as creepy as she did. The moment where her character is explaining what is feels like to strangle something is one example of her showcasing her acting ability. Basso may be the same age as the original Ouija actors and be better but Wilson is way younger and definitely beats them all - how can a child actor be better than a group of 20 year olds?

Ouija: Origin of Evil is actually a horror film that has quite a slow pace - this may bore mainstream audiences who are expecting a generic and trashy flick like the first film but I thought this change was definitely needed for the series. It gave the story time to build up the characters and the mystery. The Ouija board and Wilson actually seemed to be having positive effects - it was refreshing to see the downfall of the board and Wilson's Doris. The twist turned the creepiness up to another level - I thought it was interesting to add World War 2 Germany to the mix and the idea of the 'Demon Doctor' - this then actually made the film feel like it had elements of the Saw films as torture became a key theme. At first, Ouija 2 seems like a traditional, formulaic horror film but the story takes many turns throughout into different sub-genres - supernatural, home invasion, gore to name a few. One problem with the story and script is that the film kept breaking its own rules - there are a set few rules for playing Ouija that are clearly stated at the beginning but they are often not followed. For instance, characters are never seen saying 'Goodbye' - I can't figure out whether this is intended and explains why things start to get out of control but even when no bad things occurred, Goodbye was never said. 

So is Ouija: Origin of Evil scary? Yes, but not in the traditional way. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few jump scares and most of them are effective and will frighten you - one of the moments where Doris appears on the ceiling gave me flashbacks of when the demon appeared on top of the wardrobe in The Conjuring - this was probably the most effective jump scare. However, I also think the film is pretty creepy - the Demon Doctor concept really was what sent shivers down my spine and made me pretty uncomfortable - it wasn't a twist that you could have saw coming but it definitely worked. Some of the visual effects to do with Doris aren't the best either - they are about the same quality as a snapchat filter but you do get used to it. 

Who would have thought that I would be writing a positive review on Ouija: Origin of Evil? Definitely not me. The film is a slow burn and dips into many different sub-genres of horror which was a refreshing route for the film to go down in comparison to the generic and predictable route that the first Ouija took. I am definitely up for exploring this world even more but only if Flanagan returns to direct as he definitely knows the best way to execute this concept. The styling is very good and actually shows that time was spent developing this film and it isn't just a factory film like the first film. Ouija: Origin of Evil is well acted, chilling and very creepy. 

75
/100

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