THE STORY – In 1967 Los Angeles, widowed mother Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) unwittingly invites authentic evil into her home by adding a new stunt to bolster her séance scam business. When the merciless spirit overtakes her youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson), the small family must confront unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
THE CAST – Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas, Parker Mack & Doug Jones
THE TEAM – Mike Flanagan (Director/Writer) & Jeff Howard (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 99 Minutes
By Mike V.
The original Spirit board was created in Chestertown, Ohio in 1886 by a man named Charles Kennard. After the toy was a massive hit all throughout the state, Kennard decided it was time to get a patent so he could take the board worldwide. In April of 1890, Kennard traveled to Baltimore to meet with Elijah Bond, a patent lawyer. While in Baltimore, Kennard has a séance with Bond’s sister-in-law Helen Peters, whom Bond calls a very powerful medium. Using the board, the trio asks it what it would like to be called. The board spelled out O-U-I-J-A. When asked what that means, the board then spelled out: G-O-O-D L-U-C-K.
Well, good luck to this movie and good luck to the director finding work again. “Ouija: Origin of Evil” takes place in 1967 and deals with the modern incarnation of the Ouija Board, published by the Parker brothers. This film stars Elizabeth Reaser as Alice, a recently widowed mom trying to take care of her two daughters, Annalise Basso as Paulina, and Lulu Wilson as Doris. Alice is a fraudulent medium who uses her two young daughters in conning grieving people. Alice claims that she is doing it to help people overcome their grief, but is actually doing it to make ends meet. Eventually, Alice decides to buy an Ouija Board to spice up her act. Unfortunately, her daughter Doris is able to use the board to channel benevolent spirits who are looking to do harm to the family. What follows is your typical scary kid movie, filled with jump scares that quickly rob the film of any tension.
“Ouija: Origin of Evil” is directed by Mike Flanagan and written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard. Some, and I mean some, praise must be given to Flanagan who has created a film that is better than its predecessor. “Ouija: Origin of Evil” has an old school feel to it. Flanagan uses the old universal pictures logo as well as digitally creating artifacts on the screen to give it an old film quality. It’s fun to keep an eye out for the little circle marks in the top right corner of the screen that used to tell projectionists when to change the reel. Flanagan is also able to create a sense of claustrophobia by the way he positions the camera, effectively making the audience stressed and desperately wanting the characters to get out of the house. Lulu Wilson is an absolute delight in this film, completely selling the character of Doris. Once the young girl becomes possessed, she’s downright scary. It can’t be said enough how talented Wilson is in this film. It’s an honest shame that her talent is showcased in this horrible movie.
The script for this film is so bad, it’s painful. All of the dialogue in this movie is cringe-worthy, the one exception being a monologue given by Doris about hanging to death, which, of course, was used in all the trailers. There is not one likable character in this film and you root for no one. Alice, the mom, is especially awful. It’s possible for me to believe in a haunted house, channeled by an Ouija Board than it is for me to believe that the mother wouldn’t have realized there was anything wrong with her daughter. Even a priest, played by Luke Wilson, is completely unlikable as he makes one boneheaded decision after another.
This is an awful film, filled with awful characters, haunted by awful looking ghosts. “Ouija: Origin of Evil” desperately wants to be James Wan’s “The Conjuring.” What Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard failed to realize is that “The Conjuring” is anchored by characters the audience cares deeply for. If jump scares are what you crave, you’ll find plenty of them here (even though many of them are eye roll worthy), but for everyone else, look elsewhere, as this film is not worth the price of admission.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Mike Flanagan crafts a solid effort that surpasses the previous film.
THE BAD – But that script is absolutely terrible.