Saturday, October 25, 2014

Horror Film Review

Ouija (2014):  I dabbled with a Ouija board in high school.  Who didn't?  And while my experiences ranged from disappointment to abject terror, none came anywhere near to what happens in the movies.  Parker Brothers has been pumping these things out for decades.  If they really were conduits to the other side, half the population would have either committed suicide by or be possessed by cranky ghosts.  My point is you have to go the extra mile to suspend your disbelief when watching films about "spirit boards."  With this film, however, even that extra mile is about a thousand miles too little.

Debbie (Shelley Hennig) finds an old Ouija board when cleaning the attic.  She breaks the golden rule and plays with it alone.  Suicide by Christmas lights soon follows.  Her best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) smells something fishy and decides it would be a fabulous idea to try to contact Debbie via...wait for it...Debbie's Ouija board.  Hey, no one ever accused these people of being geniuses.  So Laine with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), Debbie's boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith), and fried Isabelle (Bianca Santos) give it a go in the house where Debbie hanged herself.  They make contact, think it's Debbie, soon learn, of course, it's not and then start dying.  The angry spirit is a little girl whose mother sewed her lips closed.  Laine visits the little girl's sister in an insane asylum and receives instructions on how to make her go away.  There's a plot twist here that's about as surprising as snow in December.  In the end, both the board and a corpse must be burned together to stop the spirit from bumping folks off.  Do they succeed?  Sure.  Well, maybe.'s one of those endings.

It never ceases to amaze me that in films like this, the protagonist barely bats an eye when their family and/or friends die tragically.  In the script, I suppose.  What was not in the script was a shred of originality, humor, or character development.  Also, the back story of the angry spirits is conveyed through exposition in roughly five minutes and ends up being a big bucket of who gives a damn.  Fatal mistake.  Unfortunately, it's only one of many that plague Ouija.

The Skinny

Acting:  Stilted and not remotely believable.  The performances garner no sympathy.  Feels like they want to get it done, get paid, and get the hell out.
Story:  About as interesting as a clump of crabgrass.
Direction:  About as dynamic as a comatose koala bear.
Production Values:  The budget was $5 million.  As it is a Hollywood studio film, it's got that air-brushed vibe.  I can't really complain about anything in particular, but everything is just a bit too unnatural.
Gore/FX:  No blood, gore, or anything fun.  What CGI there is turned out all right.
Scares:  One or two that may or may not cause you to yelp like you've been goosed by a pitchfork.
Ending:  Ho hum.
Verdict:  Should you see Ouija?  Nonein.  (If you think about it, I'm being rather clever with that answer.)  Go rent or download Witchboard instead.  I lost sleep because of that movie.  Scared the bejeesus out of me.  

Rating:  1 out of 5

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