Ouija (2014)


The only terrifying thing about “Ouija” is that there’s going to be a sequel. In the final scene our main character holds up the pointer to the screen to look in to it, almost as if warning us that a second part is inevitable. It’s horrifying to see how little is made up of such a paper thin concept. If it didn’t take itself so seriously, I think “Ouija” could have been good old fashioned fun. It should have been a self aware and very tongue in cheek horror comedy about a board game that channels ghosts. Almost like a supernatural Jumanji. Instead we’re given the cinematic equivalent of a sleeping pill that fails to channel anything horrific in its entire ninety minutes.

It’s almost like watching a big screen version of a young adult novel. And even young adult novels have more edge than “Ouija” does. They also tend to make much more sense in the long run. There’s literally a prologue scene where our two main characters, as young girls, are playing with the Ouija board and nothing happens. Seriously, there’s a small build up to nothing. From there, we meet Laine, a shrill character who spends most of the movie chasing after her little sister. When her friend Debbie is hanged after a secret game of Ouija, Laine and her group of interchangeable friends I call the “Cannon Fodder Bunch,” decide to contact her spirit through the board.

Of course they end up invoking something otherworldly and soon the “Cannon Fodder Bunch” is being offed one by one by a mysterious spirit. A la “The Ring,” Laine and her surviving forgettable pals go searching for a way to stop the ghost, which thrives on taunting them with messages that read “Hi Friend.” What? Was “Yo!” initially rejected in the first draft of the script? Most of the narrative is reliant on really clunky exposition, with Laine watching a ton of home videos of Debbie leading to her death involving the board. And Linn Shaye appears for a fun walk on role as a mental patient connected to the apparitions with devious motives of her own. Never trust the mental patient!

From thereon in there are just endless plot holes that leave the film a bumbling mess. If DZ was killing and possessing people anyway, what the hell difference did opening her mouth have? If Mother was ineffective in stopping DZ, why was she even introduced? Did Laine know about Debbie playing with the Ouija board or not? Who was video taping Debbie cleaning? Who video tapes themselves cleaning their attic and rooms? Why did Debbie have a necklace/flash drive that had home videos of Debbie on it? Were Debbie and Laine involved romantically? For the most part, the performances are solid, with Olivia Cooke being given the lion’s share of the film’s dramatic tension and trying her best. The direction is also pretty good with some nice shadow play and interesting set pieces. It’s just that “Ouija” is a failure from the starting gate and fails as even a silly time killer.