In 1967, Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is a widowed fortune teller who lives with her two daughters, Paulina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson). Looking to add a little pizzaz to her readings, Alice buys a new fangled thing called a Ouija board which unleashes demons living within the house. Ouija: Origin of Evil is written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard, directed by Flanagan.
The movie starts with Universal’s old opening graphic from the 60s, and the title credit is done in a very low-budget, retro style. This set up expectations that the movie would have a retro feel throughout, but sadly that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t expecting full-on Tarantino Grindhouse effects, but a little of it would have been nice. I will give the movie kudos for some very creative and visually entertaining camera work in the first half the movie. Cinematographer Michael Fimognari used some great old techniques that you don’t see anymore, in addition to some interesting staging. In order to avoid expensive music licensing, the sound department used old radio spots, which I thought was a brilliant way of keeping the feel of a specific time period without breaking the bank. The location, costumes and production design were also creative and better exceeded expectations.
Unfortunately, all the creativity is abandoned once the demon shows up, and the movie becomes a by the books PG-13; horror-lite; haunted house/little girl possessed movie. The script is full of setups that never pan out the way you expect. The titular Ouija board is used throughout, but the little possessed girl is the character that sustains the terror. There is a Catholic priest, which is an obvious setup for an exorcism, but he only mentions that there are people at the Vatican who study possession. No one even breaks out the holy water!
As much as I feel that the movie is ultimately disposable, I have to admit that I was entertained and had fun, which is more than I can say for other low-budget Halloween movies. Ouija: Origin perfect choice for someone who wants to see a horror movie with Mom; Tom would have loved it.
Judd: 2 ½ stars