When the project initially aimed for an action/adventure angle, à la Jumanji, it conjured much uproar. When it wises up and returns to horror territory, some potential surfaces. Throw said potential away and there’s the final product. Ouija is the latest addition to this year’s library of yawn-inducing scare shows.
Debbie (Shelley Hennig) is dead, hanging herself while alone at home. Unconvinced that their friend suddenly becomes suicidal, Laine (Olivia Cooke), Sarah (Ana Coto), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), Isabelle (Bianca Santos) and Pete (Douglas Smith) search for the truth by playing the titular board game. Presenting four attractive 20-somethings with a death wish, Ouija’s story has no intention of breaking away from the formula established by modern horror films. But that’s okay, more time to make the film’s universe interesting, right? Right?… Anyone?
Like most films from Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form’s production house Platinum Dunes – The Unborn, remakes of The Hitcher, Elm Street and more – Ouija is eye-pleasing. Despite the film being their debuts, director Stiles White and cinematographer David Emmerichs really know what to show and the best way to show them, respectively. Straightforward may be, but always clear and easy to digest. That’s it for what the film does right.
Prior to this, it’s just writing for White and his long-time partner, job and life-wise, Juliet Snowden. It’s frustrating that, even with an interesting premise, their scripts are so rigid and blatant it is kindergarten work to correctly identify and map out events in the second and third acts. In the hands of a lesser director, in particular Boogeyman’s helmer Stephen T. Kay and White with his film, this issue becomes very noticeable. Doesn’t do any favors too when Ouija’s scares are tame, repetitive and unimaginative. Some scenes from the trailer are gone when having them might have improved the experience. On second thought, doing so is still quite a gamble.
There should be no surprise then when our characters don’t fare any better. Ouija spends most of its time on Olivia Cooke’s character and she’s solid here; the most natural performer out of the young bunch. Why be in projects like this and The Quiet Ones is just baffling. What could’ve rescued the whole ship is the appearance of Lin Shaye, acting and delivering her lines so well her viewers will believe her plight. Too bad the hip and the young rule Ouija.
So many fears to come out of Ouija, but none are the kind the film was supposed to have. This is a new low for horror, this will no doubt make a profit and soon enough a poster for the sequel will be revealed. Don’t wait for the planchette to move, form questions or play it – go ahead and burn the damn thing.