Ouija – Movie Review
Ouija – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 24 Oct 2014
Ouija seemed to resonate with a group of high school girls seated along the back row of our theater. They watched in fits and starts, ignoring the sunny outdoor exposition and then shouting louder than the soundtrack of the film at every jump scare. Even for a PG-13 horror movie, there’s very little to recommend Ouija which I would have stopped watching during the first act if I weren’t intent on getting a review. Thankfully, things do get more interesting as the history behind the haunting is made clearer by Lin Shaye, whose appearance made me laugh out loud. Can you make a horror movie these days without her?
The story focuses on the Ouija board. In the opening scene, young versions of our protagonist Laine (Olivia Cooke) and her friend Debbie (Shelley Hennig) learn the rules and play their first game. Laine’s little sister Sarah interrupts them and is told to leave the room. We cut to the same girls as teenagers and Debbie is cooped up in her huge house burning a different, older looking Ouija board in the fireplace. Laine arrives to take her out, but Debbie begs off and stays in. Something takes hold of her, and she hangs herself with Christmas lights.
The rest of the first act includes Debbie’s burial reception and the introduction of Debbie’s boyfriend Pete, Laine’s boyfriend Trevor and their friend Isabelle. The five surviving friends are persuaded by Laine to go to Debbie’s house and try to say goodbye to her – via the Ouija board. It takes several games to determine what is happening, but they keep going to school during the day and returning to fight with the board even as members of the group start turning up dead.
The second and third acts do pick up momentum, and the final confrontation is tense, but very anti-climactic. Just like the rest of the movie, it never stops to ponder the death of anyone beyond Debbie and since this is happening in the middle of town, with the kids even going to school between deaths it is utterly ridiculous that they don’t really ask for help. This feels more like an attempt to keep the cast young and small in number than anything else. There have been worse horror movies this year, but Ouija is bland, slow and ultimately forgettable.
Aaron and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion afterward in the car: