THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Directed by Stiles White
"The movie has a great hook...and could easily be a franchise with some effort."
I'd like to think I know a thing or two about movies, especially ones dealing with scary shit. Sure, there's somebody who always knows a hell of a lot more, but surely all the years wasted sitting on my ass watching horrific terror meant I learned something (though a shrink might have a different opinion). But I don't know everything.
Case in point when brainstorming a new Black Sheep subject this week. My mind was blank so Arrow's new main man Eric Walkuski suggested a Jason Blum movie. Who? Well, I learned something new as he’s the king of the cheap but profitable horror flick with cash cows like Paranormal Activity, Purge, Insidious…and Ouija…which of course is the subject for today. Obviously, he's a force.
So what vital knowledge is needed for Ouija? To start it’s a Hasbro produced horror movie, which sounds all kinds of weird by itself as it is essentially a 90-minute ad for a 120 year-old board game. Well... a game that demonstrates that it can channel evil and make players dead. Good pitch. If only the same could be done with Chutes and Ladders...Or maybe this was Ridley Scott's idea for that terrible Monopoly movie that never was.
Now I can't claim Ouija is some misunderstood movie, like brilliance might be hidden beneath the board. No, the thing is a dopey, a brainless film, the kind that's easy to mock. (Like when the characters hear something in the house, and they STILL run to the closet. Come on!) However, sometimes the dumb horror movies end up the ones that last the longest.
I found Ouija enjoyable enough because I knew what I was in for. It follows all of the horror conventions, right down to the spiritually trapped mother and daughter. However, the movie has a great hook in the board game, one that should creep out everyone and could easily be a franchise with some effort. It could be an interesting anthology horror TV show, showing all sorts of game-playing dummies finding death.
I'll overlook most of the bad, minus all the spelling required when they play on the board. Thankfully, the producers knew this and made sure the characters told us what was spelled…words like "run." Oh, and the characters aren't interesting, no more than bland props. Those little Monopoly pieces have deeper back stories.
Regardless, I do dig the evil in Ouija, which can only be seen while looking through the little clear plastic hole in the game pointer that reveals a very creepy evil mom and kid. Even the simple yet sinister message from the dead spirit works well: “Hi friend.” That's freakier than any ghostly death threats or tables that float.
I don't know if horror fans will look back at Ouija with great reverence like so many 80’s B-slasher productions, but never say never. Stranger things can happen...especially if Jason Blum is involved.