Fright Fest 2016 Review #9 – Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Ouija opened wide last week.

Subgenre:  Ghost / Hasbro

Summary:  A phony medium must fight for her family’s survival when she encounters the real thing.

Review:  At first glance, the Zanders seem like a pretty normal family.  There’s doting mom Alice, rebellious teen Lina, and precocious nine-year-old Doris.  Dad died a few years ago, so Alice has since become a scam artist to pay the bills, tricking clients into believing they’re speaking to dead relatives.  To spice up her act, Alice incorporates the board game Ouija™, but when Doris gets ahold of it, she makes a very real connection with the other side.

Ouija gets some creative mileage out of its evocative period setting – this movie is to the sixties what The Conjuring was to the seventies.  The soundtrack, costumes, and set design all ring true, and give the movie a much-needed novelty factor.  There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but to Oujia’s credit, it’s far better than most movies of its studio horror ilk.  The pacing is tight, the writing is solid, the scares are (mostly) effective, and the Ouija™ board game doesn’t feel too forced into the plot. But it’s the actors who shine the most here; performances are strong all around, though the movie belongs to Lulu Wilson.  As Doris, she’s alternately adorable and terrifying, often within the same scene.  Her turn here will no doubt earn her a place in the pantheon of great child actors in horror movies.

During the first hour-plus of Ouija, I was just about ready to give it a solid eight.  But unfortunately it falls prey to an overlong climax, followed by an ending that’s unexpected yet unsatisfying.  Still, these flaws by no means ruin the movie, and feel minor when held up against everything it does right. 

The Verdict:  Far better than it has any right to be, Ouija: Origin of Evil delivers as a fun piece of mainstream horror.  I give it seven demonic daughters out of ten.

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