Director: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Darren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca Santos
While Hasbro currently own the rights to the game Ouija, spirit boards pre-date the widely known brand. Ouija itself was commercialised due to America’s obsession with spiritualism and the occult during the late 1800s. There are many ideas of where the name comes from, with one being that the name originates from a medium using the board and asking it what it was called, the pointer spelled out Ouija then explained that this means good luck and another being that it sounds Egyptian, which was popular with the spiritualists at the time.
As the credits start to roll on Ouija (2014) it comes up saying based on the Hasbro board game. This is the most entertaining Ouija gets, not only because it references the parlour game, but because it’s finally over. Ouija is without a doubt the worst big studio horror films of recent years. It’s dreadfully slow and not in the slightest bit scary. To be completely honest, it’s a waste of time watching it.
The story revolves around a group of friends who are mourning the loss of Debbie, who has committed suicide while possessed. They try to communicate with her, using a Ouija board and end up contacting a spirit who wants to kill them. Laine Morris, played by Olivia Cooke (Bate’s Motel, Ready Player One) asks her friends ‘do you ever feel like even after someone you love has died, there’s still a way you can talk to them?’ and they end up using a Ouija board shortly afterwards. That’s an actual line of dialogue in this film and it’s just an example of how clunky, unnatural and at points laughable the dialogue is throughout. What kind of question is that? As a teenager, how many loved ones does she know who have died that she can still speak to?
Tonally this film is all over the place. The spirit chases them and then they just run away and escape. There’s no prolonged terror it just flip-flops constantly between trying to be scary to moving the plot along. One moment they are being chased, the next they are back in school. The spirit proves is can attack them at any point, killing Isabelle while she is brushing her teeth, but is kind enough to let them go about their day to day life, even finding the answers to solve their problems from Laine’s Grandma. How does Laine’s Grandma know how to stop the hauntings? Unclear, maybe that’s just knowledge you pick up in life and I haven’t gotten to that stage just yet.
Somehow, even though it’s under 90 minutes, this drags on for what feels like 3 hours. It’s a punishment watching this. It’s so bland and forgettable that your brain will erase it while you are watching it. It’s not that the pace is slow, it moves quite quickly, it’s just so unengaging and boring that you’ll be aware of each passing second, knowing that this is just sapping away time before you’re the one communicating to the living realm through a Ouija board.
The performances are ok, and the effects are passable, but there is no real terror here. There’s nothing scary, unsettling, or creepy. It’s just boring and that’s the worst thing a horror film can be. Apart from laughing at some of the dialogue there is no fun to be had here.