Olivia Cooke, Shelley Hennig, Ana Koto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith
A bunch of forgettable teenagers break all the rules with the Ouija board – don’t do it alone, don’t do it in your home, don’t use it in a graveyard, and always say “Good Bye.” Then these occult daredevils pay in exactly the way we expect them to. Nothing here is unique; the scares are the “gotcha” kind, and the horror is lifeless rehashing of better films.
It’s difficult to imagine what spirit filmmakers were shooting for. Perhaps producer Michael Bay and his unseasoned writing/directing crew were trying to make a tween-friendly horror flick that would still sell Ouija boards. (Fat chance when the toy is possessed and won’t leave its owners alone!). Unfortunately, this flick only makes contact if you’re looking for stupidity and cliché.
Hennig is the first to break the rules, using the board alone. She hangs herself with Christmas lights. (This isn’t a spoiler when they show this in each of the film’s six trailers and TV spots.) Her friends decide that the best way to figure out what happened to Hennig is to use the Ouija board and contact her spirit. Instead, they dial up a malevolent force.
Are things going to get worse? Yes, mostly for the audience.
The first thing that went wrong is the green-lighting of this film.
Cooke and Hennig are TV actors (Bates Motel and Teen Wolf respectively). None of the other actors are well known. After this, they might want to still be “undiscovered” for a while. Horrible things happen and they generally don’t have the talent or sense to show real terror.
The writers are Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. They’ve worked together on the awful Bogeyman and truly horrendous Knowing. White also directs the film – his first; he’s better known for special effects and make-up, and in that sense, Ouija offers its only success. When the requisite backstory requires some prosthetics and face paint, White gives us the only memorable shots in the film. They’re not particular original, but at least they’re rendered well. He also seems to have a good sense of the film’s scant few quiet moments.
Then producer Michael Bay (the Transformer crap) effectively ruins those nifty effects. Bay is the noisiest director in cinema; he also never met a cliché he didn’t love. Ouija feels distinctly like Bay inspired White to overuse truly unentertaining cacophony, along with things like light-up stoves, swinging doors, swinging lights, and other stuff we’ve seen in better horror flicks.
I have to admit that it drives me crazy how stupid people act in horror films. Why would you ever contact an evil spirit and then walk into a room without turning on a light? When things start to go terribly wrong, why would you pick up the board game again?
Maybe I’m just as bad, though. I hated Snowden’s and White’s other scripts, and yet I lined up to see Ouija. Save yourself the grief; say “Good Bye.”