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Review – Ouija: Origin of Evil – “A blood-freezing Halloween treat”

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ouija

Written, directed and edited by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, and the forthcoming ‘Gerald’s Game‘), ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil‘ is a prequel to 2014’s Olivia-Cooke-starring ‘Ouija‘ that stars: Beth Reaser (The Twilight Saga), Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic), and Lulu Wilson (Annabelle 2).

‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is a prequel that tells the backstory of the spirits in ‘Ouija’. However, if like me you remember little to nothing of that film it functions perfectly well on its own – perhaps even better, as you are spoiler free to the fates of certain characters.

L.A. 1976, and the Zander family are running a scam psychic medium business, with mum Alice (Reaser) cold reading the punters, while her youngest, Doris (Wilson), and eldest daughter, Lina, pull strings, blow out candles and shake cabinets and curtains to sell the illusion of spiritual visitations.

After Lina and her teen friends give themselves a good scare playing with the recently released game “Ouija”, Lina suggests that the family incorporate a board into “the act”. Unfortunately the board summons a vengeful spirit, “Marcus” (friend of the site, Doug Jones), who possesses Doris.

As things get scarier, Lina goes to Father Tom (Henry Thomas – ELIOT FROM ‘E.T’!) for help and the film becomes excitingly mildly possessed by the spirit of ‘The Exorcist’ – with a wonderful daylight version of the classic priest standing in front of the house shot, and even a “spider walk”. This is minor nodding though, and ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ remains it’s own thing, which is very much in the James Wan, ‘Insidious’ and ‘The Conjuring’ wheelhouse.

Mike Flanagan is building a solid scary movie back catalogue and rep as a horror auteur. His passion and focus is very evident throughout, with scare set ups so well sculpted they will have you gritting your teeth so hard they will snap, and a gloriously vintage aesthetic so full-on that – beyond the immaculately retro title card – also features cigarette burns to signal pretend reel changes, soft lenses and even De Palma dual focus split-screens.

Elevating ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ further are wonderful characters and some great dynamics.

Lulu Wilson’s creepy little girl is properly petrifying and gives dead pan line deliveries that chill and thrill; Reaser’s complex mum goes through the emotional wringer and provides the film’s backbone; while Basso is the heart and hands who must do whatever is necessary to try and save her family. The two male love interests, Thomas’s “Father Tom” and Parker Mack’s “Mikey” also provide sturdy support, and possible positive relationships, in what could have been throwaway bodycount parts – but instead are loaded with really well played moments that are beautifully delivered.

‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is a blood-freezing Halloween treat, and remember to stay until after the credits, AND to keep an eye on the end of the cast list for a clue as to why…

4-out-of-5

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