Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Film Review - Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"In Origin of Evil, he [Flanagan] showcases his ability to create character and suspense."

In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters are haunted by an evil presence after introducing a Ouija board into their séance scam business...

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to Ouija (2014). Fortunately, you do not have to watch the original to watch this film. Origin of Evil takes place in 1967 Los Angeles, so it immediately has a unique and attractive old-fashioned style. The film follows a small family: mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser), daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) and youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson). This family operates a scam business where they perform fake séances. However, after implementing a Ouija board into their routine, they quickly find out Doris has the ability to communicate with the dead. They capitalize on her newfound ability, but Lina quickly notices Doris' shift in behavior. The plot doesn't really take any major risks, but it works. The final act is a little disappointing, though. This is another supernatural movie that ends up becoming a slasher by the end. The actual ending was decent, though.

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a great movie. Just by writing that, I think it's pretty obvious: this prequel is a lot better than the original. The film—at least the first two acts—focuses on atmosphere and character while crafting some eerie scenes/scares. Although it often uses jump-scares, I felt like the horror was well-balanced. The jump-scares work, the suspense is plentiful, and there are some great scenes where the background comes to play—not enough films use the background nowadays. It does take a tumble towards the end. It doesn't become bad, but it just doesn't feel frightening anymore. It feels like just another horror movie. Couple that with the often sheer stupidity of some of the characters and you have yourself some noteworthy flaws. Still, the overall experience is great.

The acting was also great. Elizabeth Reaser performs well as the widowed mother. I think Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson stole the show, though. Basso stumbles during some of the more demanding scenes, but she's natural and charismatic during most of the film. Wilson also performs well, especially for a child actress. The film looks and sounds great, too. Some of the computer visuals are... mediocre, but it fortunately doesn't rely on them too much. The film was written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard; Flanagan also directs. Like I said, the plot doesn't take many risks and it tumbles towards the end, but it is effective. I'm especially impressed that they were able to create a prequel from the original film. If you've read my reviews, you know I'm a fan of Flanagan. In Origin of Evil, he showcases his ability to create character and suspense.

Overall, Ouija: Origin of Evil is a very good movie. It has its fair share of flaws, but it is much better than the original. Even if we erase the original from existence, this is a solid standalone film. If you're a fan of Flanagan or movies like The Conjuring, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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