Not Only Did ‘Ouija’ Improve From The First Film But It Told A Solid Story With Amazing Visuals
Many horror fans are turned off when they hear these words: PG-13 and Platinum Dunes. The first ‘Ouija‘ film released in 2014 was panned but made $103.6 million on a $5 million budget. In all honesty, the first film was the basic teen paranormal movie tossed out to make some money. But with the sequel, ‘Ouija: Origin Of Evil‘, it seems the filmmakers went into the project with a clear vision.
I’m not saying ‘Origin Of Evil‘ is totally original piece. But it does take a boring sub-genre and subvert expectations. Instead of just cashing in on the sequel/prequel chain, director Mike Flanagan (‘Oculus‘, ‘Hush‘) dove in head-first. Flanagan follows the original’s backstory, he also creates his own mythos There’s personality here. I’m happy to see a more focused story instead of Ouija board hijinks. You also get a sense of where Flanagan is as a director in horror. This year has had several paranormal horror films but this stands out. It’s less hollow than ‘The Conjuring 2‘ and more inspired than ‘Light’s Out‘.
It wasn’t just the directing that shined behind the camera. The cinematography fits in with the 1960’s setting so amazing well. There’s many “cigarette burns” throughout the film to make it feel like it’s shot on film. The amount of zooms used in the movie is ridiculous. I remember during film school, the cinematography instructors said zooms came off amateur and dated. Cinematographer Michael Fimognari must know that because the 60’s look was spot on. So many of the slow zooms that made you focus on the subject. Also there’s a large amount of background/foreground visual moments as well. So many scares come from the camera work in this.
“When you talk to the other side, you never know who will be listening.”
The other scares came from Doris played by Lulu Wilson. As far as kid actors in horror goes, she nails the creep factor. One of my favorite scenes with her is a talk she has with her sister’s boyfriend. Already messed with by dark forces, she goes on this rant about what it’s like to feel strangled. Going into great detail, young Doris terrifies her this poor guy. This scene has effective camera work & great acting from Wilson. Even when covered in effects to sell this ghost, she acts through it all and delivers when needed. That’s great because the other two women in the movie (Annalise Basso and Elizabeth Reaser) played rather generic characters. They never made it beyond their one dimensional characters and dived into the role like Wilson did with Doris.
I’m thankful the tight-knit story kept the focus on the family and didn’t stray too far. Like the previously mentioned ‘Conjuring 2‘, trying to tell multiple stories with too many scares leads to an underwhelming piece. ‘Origin Of Evil‘ slow burned its way to a well deserved thrilling climax. It was until the end that every scare was some in your face intensity. Tons of the horror in the movie is what almost happened. Then scares comes out of no where for a good surprise.
I’m glad ‘Ouija: Origin Of Evil‘ embraced the gimmick fully and emerged themselves in this time period. The film is trying to sell 1967 horror and I am buying it. There’s something so campy and fun about this but doesn’t lack in the story department. With all that is happening, the movie remains focused and doesn’t try to juggle too much. Even when introducing outside characters other than main family, they were tangled into this mess in a organic nature.
‘Ouija: Origin Of Evil‘ is released in theaters on October 21st, 2016. The story is about a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and invite authentic evil into their home. It stars Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, and Annalise Basso.