This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“OUIJA: ORIGINS OF EVIL” directed by Mike Flanagan, is the prequel to the 2014 film simply called “Ouija” which turned out to be the definition of a throw away horror film.
This one follows a small family in living in 1965 Los Angeles. A widowed mother and her two daughters are running a fortune-reading/séance scam out of their home and to add a new trick to their show. They decide to begin using a new game called a Ouija board, something that is supposed to be able to communicate with spirits. This games ends up working too well as the family mistakenly contacts a dark spirit, one that attaches itself to the youngest daughter. As the possession increases the family will enlist the help of a local priest to try and rid the little girl of the evil entity consuming her.
Now I saw the first film; it was terrible and I had no real interest in watching this one but after some good word of mouth began to spread, I naturally became interested. Also, after enjoying both “Hush” and “Oculus” and willing to forget about the dreadful “Before I Wake” all directed by Mike Flanagan, I was quickly intrigued with this film.
Flanagan in this film does it once again by created a tense, engaging horror film out of next to nothing in regards to gore or an overabundance of special-effects. He takes a simple story, uses strong cast performances, and a talented directorial vision, to craft an immersive film. It was creepy, ominous when it needs to be, and a manages to build tension effectively.
The look of the film was subtle but impactful in what is delivers. With the detailed settings and wardrobes Flanagan takes advantage of great lighting and camera techniques to give the film an aged look. The saturated colors and not as sharp of contrast, down to the cigarette burns in the upper right corner, the detail was evident in trying to make this project look aged, and from the time-period. The resulting film looks like it was made in 1965 and it adds to the theme perfectly.
The entire cast were all solid in their performances but easily the performance that out shined them all, and the one that the story relied on the most, was that of young Lulu Wilson. She was excellent and when it is so vital for a film to have a strong performance from a child actor, this film absolutely got one and the result was highly entertaining. She was cute and innocent when needed, and completely freaky in other scenes, and it was perfect for what this story required. Wilson was capable in the more emotional moments of the role and she easily makes the most out of the material.
This film effectively created many frightening moments without cheap jump-scares and is filled with loads of haunting imagery to build a successful horror film. It kept a nice pace up until the third-act which did bring some problems with the film. The third-act went a little over board and felt like it was trying too hard as it takes a solid film up until then and gives it a rather cliché wrap up.
“Ouija: Origins of Evil” succeeded on a (little is more) mindset but loses that focus as it closes out the story. It doesn’t kill the fun of this movie just hinders it from reaching its full potential. It’s a solid film regardless, and leaps and bounds better than the first one. It may not be a film you need to rush out to the theater to see, but when it hits digital and Blu-ray it’s certainly worth a look at.