Ouija: Origin of Evil Movie Review
Bad movies rarely breed great sequels, but such is the case Ouija: Origin of Evil, a surprisingly freaky film that is vastly superior to its predecessor. Could this be the best sequel to a bad horror movie in the history of cinema?
The original Ouija was terrible but, as is often the case with bad mainstream horror movies, a financial success. Universal and brand owner Hasbro could have easily just done more of the same, but instead they made the respectable decision to hire established horror director Mike Flanagan, give him free reign and largely pretend the first one didn't exist.
Annalise Basso reteams with her Oculus director to play the daughter of a single mom (Elizabeth Reaser) who does fake palm readings for a living and older sister to a girl named Doris (Lulu Wilson) who may or may not be possessed by a demon (hint: she is).
Wilson is downright terrifying as a seemingly cute but ultimately creepy-as-hell nine-year-old who has a slight murderous streak. The terror she invokes of course depends largely on Flanagan’s filmmaking, but the girl, when asked to carry a scene, is one creepy child. Thankfully, the rest of the cast is excellent as well, with Basso serving as a strong protagonist that stands apart from your typical scream queen.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is the type of horror movie that makes your hair stand on end. Flanagan isn’t afraid to make you jump, but none of the scares feel cheap. And while I normally hate the obvious use of CGI in horror movies (how many times have we seen mouths stretched to inhuman lengths?), Flanagan makes better use of it than most directors would.
As for the story, it isn’t particularly original, but the way it is told is refreshing--the characters are well developed, their reactions to the situation at hand are largely plausible (“splitting up sounds like the dumbest thing in the world”), and most of the movie’s developments are convincing. The plot is simple, but it’s well told.
The climax is really solid, too, even though Flanagan does give into some common horror tropes that we’ve seen a few too many times (wait, so now the possessed girl can suddenly disappear and reappear somewhere else?). But as horror climaxes go, Flanagan keeps the tension high and the scares coming until the final seconds.
Regardless of how good you ultimately think Ouija: Origin of Evil, there is one thing that is certain: it’s easily one of the best horror sequels to a bad original.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.