Prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil is a formulaic horror. A promising start gives way to an average middle section and a lacklustre finish.
In 1967, a widowed mother and her two daughters run a seance scam from their home. Looking to increase their income, they introduce a Ouija board as part of their act. This new prop has unintended consequences…
Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to 2014’s Ouija, and based on the board game. The film is directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan, the filmmaker behind the very promising Hush. Unfortunately Ouija: Origin of Evil does not match the quality or enjoyment of Hush.
The film begins rather well, with an enjoyable opening sequence. The premise of the film piques the attention. When the trio are revealed to be scammers, it gives the story an interesting edge, pointing to a potential blurred line between the real and the fake. However, this is eschewed to concentrate on a purely supernatural angle. It is a shame, because after the first third, the film settles into a formulaic horror routine.
Watching Ouija: Origin of Evil is like playing a game of horror bingo. Eventually, all the clichés appear. Based around the board game, the narrative concentrates on a supernatural entity that has entered the family’s home. Yet, as the film progresses, all the conventional horror tropes are pulled out of the bag. In explaining what is causing the disturbance, the film provides a mesh of tired motifs.
The first third of the film has a few jump scares, but not as many as often seen in modern horror movies. There is a hope that the filmmakers are going to do something different with the film. As the film settles into its middle third, the generic traits begin to appear. Some of the scares are decent, others seem bland. The final third of the film is rather poor. The climax is overblown; this is not helped by some subpar CGI. Lulu Wilson gives a good performance as Doris. Annalise Basso also gives a decent performance, despite the limitation of the narrative.
Ouija: Origin of Evil does have some scares, but any enjoyment is hampered by the disappointing finale.