What I'm Watching: Ouija
Time for a quick review, and I finally got out of the house to get in some Halloween-themed movie watching done. And since SOME franchise has been bumping their movies into the far flung future, or January *coughcoughParanormalAcitivitycough* I had little in the way of options besides Ouija.
Did I spell that right? Eh, we all know the movie. Or at least the board...game...party thing.
I'll admit right off the bat, that I largely went to see this movie because of the cast, and then some of the people involved, and the idea didn't sound terrible. Shelley Hennig does a great job with very little, making you care about her character with the scant stuff they gave her. She's great at these sort of innocent good girl roles, but is capable of so much more. Still, she brings to life the character of Debbie more than a lot of others may have.
Also, Olivia Cooke does much the same, and carries over a lot of her personable character from Bates Motel, and again makes you care about what she's going through, in a movie where they could have easily dropped the ball on that and just not bothered. A lot of this movie hinges on you giving a crap about the friendship between Debbie and Laine, and the lengths they'd go to for each other, even beyond death.
Even Lin Shaye does a good job, as someone also connected to the spirit board. Her role requires her to be a couple of things at once, and not a lot of people could have pulled it off as believably as she did.
The movie's plot revolves around a girl who messes around with a Ouija board in ways she shouldn't, leading to her untimely demise, and her best friend being unable to move on. So of course SHE finds the spirit board and wants to say goodbye. The plot thickens when she discovers that her death was not a suicide like everyone thinks, and that it may have been the other spirits communicating through the board.
See, we have a perfectly sensible plot there, right? We've got a decent cast, and if you're gonna do a movie about a Ouija board, that's probably the way you want to go about it. You've got mystery and intrigue, and some decent chances for horror.
And don't get me wrong, the movie's pretty solid. It's got it's plot, it unfolds pretty well, and the 83 minute runtime is pretty much exactly how long this movie needed to be. The pacing moves along nicely, and I really like the way the story peels back its layers and reveals the real story going on. I seriously thought the movie might be cruising to an early end, but it found a good way to twist things one last time, that did NOT feel contrived, and didn't drag things out.
This also hit me right as I'm thinking about my own friend who died exactly ten years ago, and a lot of my thoughts back then are back on my mind. I was in a very similar mental place, and having my mind back there REALLY helped me connect with what Laine was going through after her friend's death, and really spoke to the me from 2004. A number of lines really hit me in the feels.
The biggest flaw of the movie, and I can't really fault it for this, but the movie doesn't really do enough to make itself unique. There's no real innovation here, the scares are actually good, but stuff we've seen before, and the movie is WAY too reliant on that same tingly music sting from Insidious. I've ALWAYS found it annoying, because it is such a cheap way to try and drum up emotion, and I personally find it a grating sound and it throws me right out of the movie. Leave it in Insidious, where it still doesn't belong, but you don't need to copy THAT, of all things.
On the plus side, there was a GREAT moment of triumph where the tables turn at the end of the movie, that almost had me cheering. It was almost exactly what I wanted them to do, and I was glad to see it happen.
So, Ouija is a mixed bag. It's probably the best sort of thing you will get from a movie about the Ouija board, that sets up its own rules and plays fair with the audience (except for a few too many jump scares). It may not be the most original horror movie, but I was thoroughly entertained, and I do recommend it if you can catch it cheap. Enjoyable fluff that was a good way to kill an evening.