What I'm Watching: The Ouija Summoning
THE LAST ONE I MADE IT TO THE LAST ONE...*ahem* So here we are, at the end of my Ouija Experiment experiment with #4, and still following in #3's footsteps by actually being named The Ouija Summoning, because again this has absolutely nothing to do with the first two. But it does have the great tagline, "It has been unleashed. Regret changes nothing." And that perfectly sums this weekend of Ouija up. And yes, I know it's Monday. It's a long weekend, yeah that's it.
Summoning starts off with a girl coming home and looking for her sister, and eventually finds her playing creepy games. Because a loud BOOOOM as a jump scare is always how you want to set the tone of horror you're going for. Not a good sign.
We also hear Creepy Voice muttering from nowhere, or maybe it's the sister, it's hard to tell. Anyways, it all ends with the sister saying something like how she has to kill her sister or the voices in her head will do it for her. There's something I like about that idea, which is good because it IS the central thrust of the entire plot. I can see voices of spirits whispering in your ear, convincing people to kill others or else they'll do it, and make it worse. At least if the death is by your hands, you could do something about it.
Anyways, after all that drama and jump scares, we head on over to the proper plot of Sara and her mom, who are dealing with a divorce, with all that entails, with Sara missing dad and such.
Sara's life is summed up as 'people making her do stuff she doesn't want to be involved with'. Which is pretty much the life of a teenager, but Sara's got it pretty bad and she just wants to do her own thing with her own friends, even though they also drag her around to things she doesn't want to do, but hey, boyfriend and his friend drag her off camping.
So the entire plot happens because one of the main trio decides to stop at the murder house randomly because he heard a noise. While driving in the car?? Sigh. And they stop at the muderhouse from the start of the movie, and oh hey, more loud noises out of nowhere. And if that wasn't bad enough, they suddenly throw in the Inception BWOOOOMMM noise for no good reason. Seriously, the loud pointless jump scares are starting to rival The Forest.
And it's no surprise that they find the Ouija board and take it with them off into the middle of the woods, because why not! But otherwise we'd have no movie, so fine. And here's a tip to add to the usual rules; If the spirit says it would prefer to not to say its name...PUT THE BOARD DOWN AND GET AWAY.
But the board tells the trio that Sara is destined to kill Santiago, and that leads us to the thrilling death in a nightmare before he actually dies. Because on top of fake jump scares, I need fake nightmare deaths too. And after Santiago dies, the board just starts whispering the messages, discarding the whole point of EVEN HAVING a Ouija board.
It's the same sort of messages from the start being given to Sara. The whole kill or I'll do it for you deal. But um... "She's trying to prove to me that I would also kill. I didn't kill Santiago, so she did it for me!" I...what...what kind of logic is that?!
Anyways, Sara gets told to kill her grandmother, so naturally goes to visit her. Okay, I guess that's justifiable to try and protect her, but it also puts her square in the crosshairs, yes? And it leads to a sluggish scene of wandering the house in the middle of the night while nothing happens for nearly five minutes. But it at least leads to another nightmare where ghost possessed nightmare grannie scares Sara and us. With even more gibberish to boot! "Regret doesn't undo what's been done!" BUT SHE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING.
And while I started liking the idea, the longer I sit with this movie and it gives me long stretches where I can sit and think through the logic of it all? Kill or I'll kill them is kinda weak. I'd be like, "Pfff, fine, if they're gonna die, YOU do it." Why bother with a middle man? Why not just kill? I guess it would create a killer, and tempt innocents, but fine, YOU do it, oh high and mighty spirit.
With all this going on, Sara visits a priest and get this... A priest, A PRIEST!! is telling Sara that if she doesn't do what the spirit says, things will escalate. HE IS ENCOURAGING HER TO KILL. There's a genuine nugget of good ideas here, but somehow the execution is coming up with some bizarre ideas.
But the movie gets even more exciting when after several people have died, Sara just curls up in bed and does nothing out of grief and shock! The thrilling third act where your lead character spends most of her time in bed...
The ghost keeps lurking around over peoples' shoulders, and I'm turning this into the adventures of the mildly inconvenient but very annoying ghost.
This eventually leads up to the final act where the spirit decides it wants Sara to kill her own dad, and I do like Carter taking it upon himself to let Sara kill him, again making a sacrifice to save his family, like Joseph did in #3. But again, the logic here stumbles. Why would the ghost just stop after one death? "Well, now I know they'll kill at my command!" This is why we don't negotiate with Ouija terrorists, people!
Also, the movie keeps acting Sara has Done Something Horrible, but never ever tells us. She feels like she deserves this happening to her, they keep saying things about regret, but *Sara never does anything*. It could ALMOST work for the usual childhood guilt of "Mom and dad broke up because of me," but if that's the intent, they never go there. They don't even give me a "I wanted grandma to die" sort of guilt. Give me SOMEthing to hang this persecution complex on.
Since the movie is almost over, we get a random scene where Sara sees what the spirit did to make it so grumpy, and I'd argue its unnecessary. The ghost is bad, it wants people to do bad things. Don't give it a Tragic Backstory where it killed her son on accident. It does not excuse it making people kill people. As Brooklyn 99 says, "Cool story, still murder."
The movie at least sticks with its themes of sacrifiuce as Sara kills HERSELF rather than her father, and cut off the ghost's conduit of communication. Okay. But...can't the ghost still kill him? I mean, I'd do it out of spite for that trick. And it all ends with the Power of Forgiveness by Sara forgiving the pissed off ghost for its acts.
Okay, fine, that works in the movie's logic. NEXT TIME TRY IT BEFORE YOU KILL YOURSELF.
I WANT to like this movie. The story is solid enough, but the execution is where it all falls down. The logic is not thought through enough, there are WAY too many jump scares and fakeouts. And if you're gonna solve stuff with the Power of Forgiveness, it's better to do that before self sacrifice, as much as I appreciate the hero giving their life to save everyone endings. This is probably the best made and best looking movie of the four, and probably the best idea of all of them, with the best pacing, but then the plot is a mess. The acting is probably the best part of this one.
In some ways, this is the best of the four, and in other ways, its not. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the worst. In fact, if I've seen nothing else, each one of these movies has their high points, and at the end of the day, even with my frustrations, I was at least entertained. This was a fun journey. I say a week after watching the movies and I can look back in nostalgia. If you want silly campy movies, go for the first two. If you want something that's better attempts at an actual story that stumble in places, go for the last two.
I never, ever, ever want to type the word Ouija again.