How can it be that we’re subjected to awful horror flick, after awful horror flick? As an audience, we demand to be entertained and while nearly every horror film scares, are they all scary? When was the last time you were truly scared by a film? Mine was probably The Conjuring, because that’s a well-written, well-directed, well-acted horror film that creates a frightening atmosphere, as opposed to only relying on jump scares. I’m tired of the basic “horror” that we always and this film almost put me to sleep. When will the torture end?
When Debbie (Shelley Henig) is found hanging from her ceiling, everyone writes it off as a suicide. Her best-friend, Laine (Olivia Cooke) can’t figure out why she would do such a thing, until she discovers a Ouija board in Debbie’s closet. As little girls, they played with a similar board and were told never to play alone, never to play in a graveyard, and to always say goodbye. Feeling some discomfort with the situation, Laine assembles her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), her friend Isabelle (Bianca Santos), and Debbie’s boyfriend, Pete (Douglas Smith).
When the gang plays with the Ouija board in Debbie’s house, they’re contacted by an unknown spirit within the house that begins to haunt each of them separately. Something evil lies within that house and the gang isn’t quite sure if they’ve reached Debbie, or something more frightening. As people in the town start dying and as the group uncovers more about the house, they’re led to a little old lady (Lin Shaye) who may be able to help them. Can she help them before it’s too late?
Ouija is a run-of-the-mill horror film that gets bogged down in all of the classic tropes and tricks that you’ve either come to love, or detest. With jump scares aplenty, there’s nothing else in this film to genuinely scare you and you’ll probably end up rolling your eyes by the end of the film. Ouija brings nothing new to the table it is just as stupid as it appears. The acting is atrocious, the writing is dismal, and nothing ever feels real. Cheap horror is insulting and this film was like a slap in the face.
The film does look pretty good and it’s certainly visually appealing. The shots are fairly crisp and the film proceeds quickly, which is always a bonus. The sound quality is great, as every shriek and violin screech echoes for quite some time. If you love startling and disturbing imagery, you’re sure to be pleased by some of the makeup efforts in the film, as they’re quite unsettling.
Now that we’ve gotten the semi-decent things about this film out-of-the-way, we can discuss how cliche this film is and how often it borrows from LITERALLY every other horror film. The tropes include but are not limited to: dolls, scary mothers, scary twins, possession, head tilting, careless/stupid teenagers, convenient storytelling, jump scares, flickering lights, spirits, and Grade-A problem solving. You can’t forget the ominous chanting and quick explanation of the spirit realm. Everything you see is something that you’ve seen before, save for the Ouija board. I often felt like I was checking off items on a checklist as this film blew through trope after trope. There’s very little left out and very little left to the imagination.
There’s a line when it comes to the believability of teenage characters in a horror film. More often than not, these supposed kids look like they’re at least 25 and they have a combined IQ of 25 as well. All reasoning goes out the window when dire situations occur and the characters in Ouija are no exception to that. Led by an emotionless Cooke, this band of misfits actively tries to get themselves killed and they do a poor job of conveying that they actually care about anything that’s happening in this film. Their line delivery is flat, their inflections are all way off, and they keep these stone-like facial expressions that keep us from understanding how they really feel. I’m of the mind that when the actors actually seem scared that they’re far more believable.
The incorporation of the Ouija board is something new and is an item that most people have heard of and it could have proved to be a very scary prop in this film. Instead, we don’t get too deep into why these girls played with a Ouija board in the first place and that’s not even half of what’s wrong with this script. There’s no background for any of these characters and their motivations are just tossed out the window. Apparently, it only takes a few hours to grieve the death of a loved one and then you’re super perky the next day s if nothing happened. The biggest issues that the characters face are all quickly dealt with, all thanks to the writers who clearly put a lot of effort into being original.
Ouija is just another throwaway horror film that leaves you neither scared, nor satisfied when the lights come back up and rescue you from he darkness. The film’s atmosphere isn’t even a bit creepy, which makes it even harder for anyone to get the slightest bit scarred. This film is a mockery of true horror films, as its simple plot and overuse of jump scares classifies is as cheap horror. It’s certainly going to scare the faint of heart, but it could have been a lot better, had everyone involved attempted to make something worthwhile.