2016 has been a great year for horror films. Movie execs and studios are rushing out to make more and more horror films, but not all of them are worthy. In my list for the most awesome horror films are the following: The Witch, The Conjuring 2, Hush (a Netflix movie), The Shallows, Don’t Breathe, Lights Out, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Other Side of the Door and to this list I will most definitely add an unsettling movie I saw tonight: Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Ouija (the first part) was released in 2014 to really bad reviews, so much it, it only accumulated 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, despite the fact that it was a commercial success. I went in Ouija: Origin of Evil with no foreknowledge, keeping an open mind, and as a self confessed horror movie fan, came out pleasantly surprised.
Why does this sequel, which is far superior to the first part, work so well?
1. The story line. There are no cheap gimmicks or over the top monsters and demons. It’s a rather simple story of a mother, Alice, and her two daughters Paulina and Doris whose father have died. Alice and her daughters carry out séances to give their clients closure, but the séances are all fake. Doris, having not seen her father, attempts to contact him using the Ouija board and succeeds. Unbeknownst to her, some demonic forces have entered the house and into the young 9-year-old Doris. What follows is the mother and elder daughter fighting off this evil and getting to the bottom of the origin of this demonic force with some unforeseen consequences. The simplicity of the story gives the audience a classic old-fashioned horror movie, which is a treat in today’s age i.e no blood, no gore, no nudity, no nonsense. Which makes the scare all the more effective when they are unleashed.
2. The Setting. The movie is set in 1960s, and so there is a lot of simplicity in the set design, with a complete absence (thankfully) of any signs of modern technology (no cell phone, no internet etc). Why, when the name of the movie shows up, it’s a classic 60’s title card. Tonally, the movie is very reminiscent of classic movies like Rosemary’s Baby, Omen and The Exorcist (whose influence can be seen in one staircase scene). The closest this movie comes to a recent horror movie is The Conjuring 2 (James Wan’s influence can be seen in some of the camera tracking shots). Even the soundtrack is so 60s that one gets in the mood.
3. The acting. The characters are believable. There are a few instances when the audience is forced to scream out “don’t enter the dark room” but they are far and few in between. On the whole, these characters very much likeable and relatable (pretty much like the characters in Lights Out), which makes it so much easier for us to feel for them when they are in danger.
The Ouija board in itself is a character. The séances are a treat to watch, especially when the planchette is used a viewing oculus to see the dead spirit. There were some people who left the cinema for they couldn’t bear the tension, while others were chatting louder and louder to divert themselves from the fear. I have to be honest, there were definitely some unsettling and creepy moments that had me on the edge of my seat and that is a sign of a sure fire success of a horror movie.
If you do plan on playing the infamous board game, remember the three important rules:
A. Never Play Alone
B. Never Play in a Graveyard
C. Always Say Goodbye
The movie has been appreciated by critics and audiences world over and given it’s success, here’s hoping to more great horror movies coming out. Quija: Origin of Evil is that classic, old fashioned horror movie that we all love to watch, with no excessive violence or gore, taking us back to the classics.
4 out of 5
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas (of ET fame), Parker Mack, Doug Jones
Running Time: 99 minutes
Synopsis: A widowed mother Alice carries out scam seances, and things go wrong with the youngest daughter inviting demonic forces into the house and inside herself, forcing the family to confront the evil from the other side
Seen at: DHA Cinema, Lahore
Approval Ratings (Rotten Tomatoes): 82%