Metro Reel Guys: “Ouija: scary, but not scary like Dracula or Edgar Allen Poe.”
By Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys
SYNOPSIS: The trouble in “Ouija” begins when Debbie (Shelley Hennig) breaks the first rule of witchboarding: Never play alone. She pays a heavy price for her spiritual disobedience and soon her group of good-looking friends is gathered at her funeral. “She said she’d see us the next day,” says BFF Laine (Olivia Cooke). “Why would she say that?” We’ll never know… unless Laine pulls out the Ouija Board! Using Debbie’s board Laine and pals try and contact their dearly departed’s spirit, but instead unleash a demonic terror that threatens all of their lives.
Richard: 1 Star
Mark: 1 Star
Richard: Mark, Ouija is scary, but not scary like Dracula, Edgar Allen Poe or hungry zombies. No, I thought Ouija was scary because as I watched it I could feel my life slipping away, second-by-second, for ninety excruciating minutes. As scary as you would imagine a horror film inspired by a board game to be, it’s a mishmash of demonology, Japanese horror and so many slasher movie tropes the producers owe John Carpenter and Wes Craven a writing credit. The blonde girl dies first, there’s spooky stuff in the attic and the plucky heroine outlives almost everyone. At least there’s very little found footage. Which way does you planchette point on this movie? Yes or no?
Mark: My planchette points straight down on this one, Richard. The ouija board itself is a dumb device, as laughable as tea leaves or numerology. Then the rest of the movie makes up its own rules as it goes along, with little regard for storytelling or even visual style. The movie, which seems to be pitched at teenage girls who would text photos of jeans while watching it, feels like an after school special viewed on a fourth rerun. But it did make me think. I thought about tax planning, tort reform, Japanese vintage eyewear, and what I ate for lunch on May 7, 1978. Then, blissfully, the movie ended, and I was free.
RC: The movie is 5% jump scares, those unexpected loud noises that make you twitch in your seat, 67% set-up and 28% strange glances. As Laine, Debbie’s intrepid best friend, Olivia Cooke does most of the heavy lifting. She keeps the action (such that it is) moving forward all the while displaying her mastery of the concerned look. With a furrowed brow and a determined attitude she tracks down the mystery behind her friend’s death, but mostly she just looks concerned.
MB: About her career, after this turkey. The acting is so bland in this film that you’re quite happy when they meet their gruesome fates. The pretty, watchable blonde is dispatched in the first few minutes, and you breathe a short sigh of relief when the great character actor Lin Shaye shows up for a few scenes before cashing her paycheque.
RC: Most annoying is the movie’s habit of telling the audience the most obvious of details. “She played it alone,” whispers Laine in amazement over a shot of, you guessed it, Debbie going solo on the Ouija board. Instead of telling us something useful, or interesting, the film makes sure that no detail, no matter how small, is commented on.
MB: Ouija? Bored.