‘Ouija’ Can’t Provide Scares, Does Provide Startles

GameStop, Inc.

ouija-post1

We’ve entered a precarious era of cinema with the rise of adaptations based upon board games and toys. There’s a long rumored Monopoly movie, a Tetris movie is in development, and countless other items that graced the aisles of toy stores hoping to move onto movie screens. It’s easy to write these projects off as crass pieces of a sick consumer culture. As we’ve seen from this year’s The Lego Movie, sometimes these films can wow despite their dubious origins. Then there’s Ouija, based upon the Ouija Board formerly released by Parker Brothers and now by Hasbro, a movie as dumb as it is soulless.

The film opens with two little girls playing with their Ouija Board. They explain the rules before attempting to contact the spirits from beyond. Then the film flashes forward to the present. The girls are grown up. Debbie (Shelley Hennig) is just finishing playing with the Ouija Board alone, a big no-no, and tosses the board in the fireplace. As the board burns Debbie’s friend, Laine (Olivia Cooke), comes to pick her up for a basketball game or something. Deciding to flake, Debbie stays at home where dark spirits visit her prompting an apparent suicide. In search of closure, Laine gathers her group of friends to try the Ouija Board to contact Debbie. There’s Laine’s sister, Sarah (Ana Coto), her boyfriend, Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), her friend, Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos), and Debbie’s boyfriend, Pete (Douglas Smith). Of course their dalliances in the black arts have grave consequences, and now the group of teenagers must solve the mystery of the Ouija Board.

Making his directorial debut is Stiles White, who co-wrote the script with Juliet Snowden. Previously working in the special effects field, White shows little promise in his first trip behind the camera. There’s no playfulness with the material, no sense of fun, it’s as serious as it is stupid. Certainly not helping matters, the film doesn’t have any tension or suspense, merely relying on jump scares – a loud noise and a quick cut, that’s it. The scariest aspect of the movie, the fact that Michael Bay was one of the producers, is withheld until the end credits.

None of the young actors in the film avail themselves well, but much of that could be chalked up to the lacking script. This is one of those horror films in which every decision made by the characters is as dumb as humanly possible. This is also one of those films in which actors bordering on 30 are asked to convincingly play highschoolers, where every 16-year old male has a permanent 5 o’clock shadow.

I well understand that this film isn’t intended for adult fans of horror. Even then, the most lenient tween of questionable taste may find the film lacking in scares. I’d recommend that those tweens watch reruns of Pretty Little Liars instead. Ouija is a dire work with a cardboard soul and a plastic heart. At our screening there were constant howls of unintentional laughter, but it’s not so-bad-it’s-good enough to recommend. If you have even the slightest inkling to view Ouija, my advice is to wait until Rifftrax gets a hold of it. They’re gonna have a field day with this one.

 

 

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