Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

It was surprising enough that a sequel to 2014’s Ouija was greenlit. What’s even more surprising is that the sequel is actually better. WIth OculusMike Flanagan at the helm, what could have been yet another by-the-numbers spookfest becomes a genuinely solid horror movie.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Ouija: Origin of Evil follows the story of Alice, a widow desperately trying to make ends meet by staging seances with her two daughters. With money getting tighter and tighter, they decide to incorporate a ouija board within their act to try and spice it up a little…and in doing so inadvertently invite a malevolent spirit into their house who possesses the youngest daughter.

Speaking of, I may as well jump into this: there’s no doubt about it that Lulu Wilson’s Doris is the standout of this film. The whole ‘creepy kid’ trope can be a hard one to nail; paradoxically it’s often the case that the harder an actor tries to be creepy, the less creepy they actually are. The reason Damien’s smile was so sinister in The Omen was because it was a genuine smile of happiness brought on by director Richard Donner’s jokes offscreen. Fortunately Wilson has the balance just right; her eeriness drawn out through her wide-eyed innocence.

The rest of the cast are fantastic too; Elizabeth Reaser is immensely likeable as the heartbroken yet tenacious Alice, Annalise Basso nails the rebellious teenager divided by her independence and her family, and it was a pleasant surprise to see E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial’s Henry Thomas.

Everything about Ouija: Origin of Evil screams vintage; not only superficially for the fantastically recreated 60s era in which the film is set, but in a wider, more meta sense too. Flanagan, along with frequent collaborator Jeff Howard, have written a slow-burning horror film that, thematically at least, wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in amongst the likes of The Exorcist and Don’t Look Now.

We’re a big fan of Mike Flanagan’s work here at Gorepress Towers, and Ouija: Origin of Evil is no exception; Flanagan masterfully recreates both the aesthetic of the late 60’s as well as simultaneously nodding at the horror films of that era, and in doing so creates a wonderfully retro – not to mention emotional and genuinely quite chilling – horror movie. And, as a bonus, it works perfectly well as a standalone movie too, so you don’t even need to waste ninety minutes watching the original movie either. Success!

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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