PLOT: A group of teens use a Ouija board to try and summon the spirit of their late friend only to find that they've summoned another presence entirely – one that's evil and won't rest until they're all dead.
REVIEW: If you thought you'd seen the last board game to movie adaptation with BATTLESHIP, think again. Christmas is just around the corner and Hasbro's got games to sell, so we shouldn't be a bit surprised to see one of their most infamous games get the big-screen treatment with OUIJA. Granted, this is a much less ambitious take on the game than we might have gotten a few years ago, with it being another micro-budget horror flick from Blumhouse, where it's pretty much guaranteed to be in profit for the studio by the end of opening weekend. Too bad it isn't any good.
Truth be told, there's nothing wrong with making a OUIJA movie. Who hasn't played with one as a kid? I remember using one to try and contact the spirits of Brandon Lee and Kurt Cobain with my sister back in the early nineties (suffice to say it didn't work) so there's a cachet there. The eighties horror minor-classic WITCHBOARD proved that. But OUIJA, for all of it's microbudget ambition is barely a film at all. Running just over eighty minutes, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more innocuous horror flick, and were it not for the name-recognition, this could have easily been consigned to the Blumhouse vault for VOD.
Naturally, the biggest problem is that it's just not scary. The PG-13 rating clearly has teens in mind, with the logical hope that they'll run out and buy OUIJA boards to try and scare each other at parties. But even this notoriously easy audience should be disappointed by the lack of imagination and scares. The plot is pretty ho-hum, with our heroine (Olivia Cook) trying to figure out why her BFF committed suicide, and her only clue being an old Ouija board her friend had been playing around with before her demise. It all ends up being tied into a convoluted mystery involving ghosts, a creepy possessed kid with a mouth that's sewn shut (a recurring motif here), Lin Shaye, and the photogenic gang of teens being picked off one by one. It's nothing you haven't seen done a million times before, and the scares are lukewarm at best. None of the deaths are creative or unsettling, and the scares are limited to cheap jump scares, which are TV-level at best.
While it's a bit of a drag that horror these days are mostly consigned to the profitable micro-budget market (I'd love to see an A-level studio horror flick), given the right talent these movies can be tremendously effective. No one involved with OUIJA seems to have been particularly enthused by the material, with it being a pretty bland debut for director Stiles White, who's best known for writing KNOWING, THE POSSESSION, and BOOGEYMAN. This is about as genetic as those aforementioned films (although KNOWING gets points on the merits of how batshit crazy it was). Like the recent ANNABELLE, it feels like a quickie horror flick designed to cash-in on a non-discerning teen audience, with the sad thing being that this probably will do exactly the business they're hoping for.
Even still, considering how unambitious it is, if OUIJA at least felt like the people involved were trying to deliver a solid film, it might have been more tolerable than it is. Even for hardcore horror fans, this is an easy pass, with you better off just picking a random horror movie from the dozens of lower-key ones that have hit Netflix or VOD over the last few months. It's a shame. With Halloween just around the corner, the time is right for a good horror movie, but this sure as hell ain't it.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Anyone else find it weird that considering this is basically a commercial to sell games, the boards themselves are presented as inherently evil?|