Mike Flanagan masters a difficult task, transforming Ouija into a franchise
After the atrocity that was Ouija, the thought the there was going to be another of one of this was irresponsible. The premise alone just isn’t scary, but Hasbro insists that these movies continue to be made. At least the studio was aware of the error, this time around they brought indie director Mike Flanagan to direct the prequel. This may have been Hasbro’s best decision yet because Ouija: Origin of Evil is a great horror movie.
Ripping a page directly from both Conjuring films, Flanagan gives the audience some well-made characters with lots of heart. Put these characters in a real situation with paranormal entities, and you got yourself a good horror movie. Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) is a fake fortune teller trying to provide people with closure from their loved ones while also trying to take care of her two daughters, Doris (Lulu Wilson) and Lina (Annalise Basso). Her ambition leads her to buy a new “prop,” a Ouija board, to use with her clients. She later finds out that Doris may have used it and she becomes the vessel for spirits.
Set in the 1960s, the film has a vintage vibe to it. Flanagan adds “cigarette butts,” skippy transitions, an old Universal logo and an old-fashion title card that adds to feel of the movie in more ways that not. These little things translate into the tone of the film and provide an atmosphere for the audience to savor. His craftsmanship is seen and greatly enjoyed throughout the movie. As a horror director, Flanagan never ceases to deliver creativity and skills to the horror genre. It’s odd that he would later use CGI over practical effects as it betrays the setting and era.
Unlike other horror movies, Ouija: Origin of Evil succeeds at giving the characters depth which later gives the audience a reason to root for them. Flanagan never treats this as a chore to be taken care of as he builds each character from the bottom down with high precision. Added on top is the excellent performance by the whole crew. Lulu Wilson, the little girl, easily gives the best performance of the movie. Her possessed scene could have easily been comical, but Wilson never steps into that territory, and it is creepy.
Origin of Evil even introduces new area while mastering old lands. Flanagan continues to perfect his style with scenes reminiscent of Oculus. There is a sense that he knows horror and that knowledge helps him dodge cliches.
They called, and Ouija answered. Origin of Evil renews the hope for future horror movies featuring the board. From this point forward, there is much to explore. While that may be daring to say, Ouija: Origin of Evil is proof that there is such a place for sequels in Hollywood.