Saturday, January 10, 2015

Film Review: The Ouija Experiment (2011)

The Ouija Experiment (Review)
United States/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

" feels like it was rushed out to cash in on the Paranormal Activity craze..."

A group of friends videotape their Ouija experiment...

The Ouija Experiment follows a group of friends who film themselves playing with a Ouija board. They have some personal drama which causes them to break a rule -- they forgot to say goodbye! So, a cliché haunting erupts and an inconsistent mystery unravels. That's practically everything in the film in a nutshell. Oh, and it all leads to a contrived climax we've seen a million times and a ridiculous ending.

In fact, I think we've seen this film a million times by now. The Ouija Experiment is essentially the same ol' found-footage film we've grown to hate. The story tries to be original, but it ultimately reverts to the same. Sadly, I didn't care for the story or the characters. The latter were mostly douchey, like every other found footage horror film. They weren't the worst characters I've ever seen, but they weren't that much better, either. The first half of the film has very few "scares," while the second half is jam-packed. Unfortunately, many of the scares are duds. There isn't much suspense, so most of the jump-scares fall flat -- and, it relies mostly on jump-scares, so you can see the issue. Still, I found at least two, maybe three, "scary" scenes that I enjoyed and a few scenes that I thought were simply cool -- for lack of a better term.

Also, this is a little bit of a nitpick, but the story was filled with a lot of unnecessary and forced references; every other scene has the characters referencing a movie by name, such as Paranormal Activity 1 and 2, or quoting a viral YouTube video. By the time the film ended, I was convinced this was actually made by an everyday YouTube member. There was some bizarre exposition, I suppose, in here, too. You'd watch an entire scene, then a character would literally recap the scene you just watched in their vlog. I'm not stupid -- or at least I don't think I'm stupid -- so, you don't have to explain every little scene. Then, there is a flashback scene towards the end. A flashback scene in a found-footage film? Doesn't seem to fit properly.

The acting is mediocre -- okay, that's being generous. Honestly, though, some of the acting was passable, except when the roles became demanding. When it became demanding, it was downright bad, especially during the flashback scenes. The found-footage style is okay in this film, but ultimately unnecessary -- at least it wasn't nauseating. Writer and director Israel Luna has a promising scene here and there, but those scenes usually fall flat. Unfortunately, most of the film suffers from clichés, filler, and a severe lack of horror.

Overall, The Ouija Experiment is a bad horror film. It offers very little horror, and not nearly enough to warrant a feature-length film. The story started off interesting, but it quickly became cliché and bland. Couple that with scares we've seen a million times and you have a disappointing film. That's not even including the technical flaws in the film, such as the sub par acting. Ultimately, I can see some promise in the concept and direction, but this film feels like it was rushed out to cash in on the Paranormal Activity craze a few years ago. I can't recommend purchasing it, but if you have time to kill and enjoy low-budget horror, this might be worth a stream. (I do, however, applaud the filmmakers for creating a film with such a small budget. Regardless of quality, that's a great accomplishment.)

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, and some nudity.

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