Ouija is fun but not very scary
Is a spirit board a simple plaything or a tool of the Devil? The new film ‘Ouija’ shows us that it’s definitely not a toy.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen movies based on toys and games, most notably the Transformers series and Battleship. There are movies in the works based on the classic board games Monopoly and Candyland as well. Just in time for Halloween, the newest game-to-movie production debuts as Ouija comes to the big screen.
Depending on your personal beliefs, the Ouija board is either just a game or a tool of the Devil used to open a portal to a demonic world. The movie capitalizes on these beliefs that playing with a Ouija board will only lead to bad things.
In Ouija, we meet two best friends as children playing with a Ouija board. As teenagers, one of the girls, Debbie, disobeys the cardinal rule of not playing with the board alone. Next thing you know, Debbie hangs herself but no one can believe that she actually killed herself. Her friend Laine (Bates Motel‘s Olivia Cooke) thinks the only way to get closure is to gather Debbie’s closest friends and contact her with the Ouija board. Contact is made, but is it Debbie or something pretending to be Debbie?
After a few years of what became known as the “torture porn” genre of horror movies, filmmakers like James Wan (who contributed to that genre with the Saw series) have taken a new-ish approach to horror, giving us more old school haunted house movies with films like Insidious, The Conjuring and Annabelle which rely more on physical effects and frightening images to make you jump.
Ouija, thankfully, follows that template with actors portraying the spirits and a minimum of CGI effects, used sparingly and only when something can not be accomplished on set. And while the movie may not be the most original thing out there, borrowing from everything from the Final Destination films to Insidious (right down to casting Lin Shaye in a pivotal role), it does deliver a few good jumps without over-doing it with the stupidly loud music cues.
What Ouija lacks in originality, it makes up with a solid cast and some high quality production value. The movie has an obviously lower budget than previous Hasbro movies, but it looks awesome and the spirits are effectively creepy. The story is told pretty economically with little padding and even manages to throw a twist at us when we think everything has been resolved.
Ouija may be more fun than frightening, but for a quick Halloween date night scare it does the job.