Film Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil

Ouija: Origin Of Evil

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.

Previews: Deepwater Horizon Featurette, Blair Witch, More!

Plenty to gaze upon in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a Deepwater Horizon Featurette, the latest Blair Witch trailer and more…

Deepwater Horizon Featurette

Here is a Deepwater Horizon featurette. The film is about the events leading up to the  largest man-made disaster, in the Gulf of Mexico. Director Peter Berg follows up Battleship and Lone Survivor by reuniting with the latter’s star, Mark Wahlberg. Also starring Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson, Deepwater Horizon will hit UK screens on 29th September 2016.

Blair Witch Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for the upcoming Blair Witch. This sequel is set twenty years after the events of the original film. Blair Witch has good pedigree; it is produced by the original film’s writer-directors, and directed by Adam Wingard. After You’re Next and The Guest, it will be interesting to see how Winged tackles a modern horror classic. Blair Witch is out in UK cinemas on 15th September 2016.

Ouija: Origin of Evil Poster

Ouija: Origin of Evil Poster

This Ouija: Origin of Evil poster has a very retro look. A follow-up to 2014’s Ouija, this film tells the story of a mother and her daughters who unwittingly invite a spirit into their home. Ouija: Origin of Evil is helmed by Mike Flanagan, the director behind Oculus and Hush. The film is set for release on 21st October 2016.

La La Land Trailer

Here is the full trailer for La La Land. The film is an original musical directed by Whiplash‘s Damien Chazelle. Dream team Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling reunite for the film, which also stars John Legend and Rosemarie DeWitt. La La Land is scheduled for UK release in January 2017.

Rings Trailer

Rings is a sequel to successful horror The Ring, and the third film in the franchise. From the above trailer, it is not clear if the characters have any connection to the original, or whether it is a whole other story. Rings will hit UK screens on Halloween – 31st October 2016.

The Magnificent Seven Trailer

This trailer for The Magnificent Seven introduces viewers to each of the gang. Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the classic western sees Denzel Washington lead the gang of outlaws and bounty hunters. Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio also star. The Magnificent Seven rides onto UK screens on 23rd September 2016.

Film Review: Oculus

Oculus

Mike Flanagan’s Oculus is a decent horror film. Despite its fair share of genre clichés, the film offers a nervy final third.

Recently released from an institution because of a childhood incident, Tim reunites with his older sister Kaylie. She is convinced that the incident was caused by a supernatural mirror, and sets out to prove this to Tim…

Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan has constructed Oculus to run two narrative strands, past and present, concurrently. This is an astute move, as it helps to generate a sense of mystery. The audience are not given all the facts initially, which makes it interesting to watch the stories unfold. The blurring between reality and the imagined is potent in Oculus. As the film progresses, this becomes more integral to the plot.

Whilst the film is dominantly a supernatural horror, Oculus does rely on issues of the psyche to drive its protagonists. There is an element of uncertainty of what is perceived, and the two main characters are less and less reliable witnesses as the film reaches its conclusion. There are some good ideas in the film, even if some o these are not fully executed.

Some of the reveals in Oculus are predictable. The set up of the film is also riddled with a significant flaw, taking into account what Kaylie has found out about the power of the mirror. Nevertheless, special effects are good. Gore is apparent in some wince-inducing moments, but generally Oculus relies on the supernatural activity and atmosphere to generate fear. Performances by leads Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are are adequate. Some of the child acting is less believable.

Oculus is a very watchable horror movie. Whilst it is not genre-changing, the film becomes more entertaining as it progresses.

Oculus is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 20th October 2014.