Ouija (2014) Review

OuijaThe film opens with two young girls playing with a Ouija board. Cue some expositive rules:  1. Never play alone; 2. Never play in a graveyard; 3. Always say goodbye. Of course, rules are made to be broken. Oh,  and you can see the entities that contact you by looking through the lens in the planchette. We jump forward about 10yrs to find one of the girls, Debbie (Shelley Hennig) burning an Ouija board, clearly terrified. Laine (Olivia Cooke) calls on her but Debbie says she’s not coming out as planned. As soon as Debbie is back in the house on her own, spooky things start to happen. She looks through the lens on the planchette and so the film begins…

Grieving the shocking death of their friend Debbie we meet our protagonists: Laine, Ana (Laine’s sister), Trevor, Isabelle and Pete. Laine finds the Ouija board at the wake for Debbie and decides she wants to use it to contact her to find out if there is anything they could have done to help or protect her. She talks her friends in to playing the game with her and they make contact with someone/something whose name begine with a D and greets them, ‘H-I-F-R-I-E-N-D’. Assuming it’s Debbie, they finish the session without saying goodbye. They soon start to encounter the phrase  ‘Hi Friend’ in places they shouldn’t: carved into a desk, written in breath on a window, text messages. One by one, the unseen malevolent force starts to pick them off. The film’s ‘Scooby gang’ (or what’s left of it) research the local history, uncovering a tragic story of a missing child and her matricidal sister.

Overall not a total waste of time but to be honest there are better, scarier films out there. There are just too few jumps and the creep factor was decidedly low. There really isn’t that much gross-out content either although there was a smattering of “Jacob’s Ladder” style sped up film which always unnerves me and a sewn shut mouth is always horrifying as far as I’m concerned.

Laine was a fine heroine but the film let her down. Ana (the sister) was a pointless character. From my point of view, I’m pretty sure Laine would have passionately attempted to rescue any person she took on this journey; it didn’t need to be her sister. The others are instantly forgettable. There is a misunderstood caregiver used to add tension and misdirection and a clichéd old crone character used to point them on the right path (in this case, the Spanish housekeeper).

If you’re easily scared or particularly like the cast you might enjoy this more than I did. You might also be more excited than I am to see a sequel planned for next year.

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