Directed by: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Sierra Heuermann, Lin Shaye
Following last year's Battleship, we now get Ouija, the latest adaptation of a Hasbro board-game. The Ouija board has become so ingrained in our culture, and so retrofitted through the medium of horror fiction, that it's easy to forget it originally came to us as a mass produced American novelty toy in the early 20th century. Believing the use of such a board allows you to communicate with spirits is akin to believing somewhere a butler murders a professor in a pantry every time you play Cluedo.
Dozens of schlocky horror movies have co-opted Hasbro's intellectual property over the years, carefully ensuring, of course, not to mention it by its trade-marked name. The most obvious is 1986's Witchboard, and this official Ouija adaptation follows the plot of that VHS era hit pretty closely, with teens being bumped off one by one after dabbling with a board. In this world, as it's the one and only official Ouija movie, characters behave as if they never heard of the concept before, which is laughably ludicrous.
One presumes Hasbro got into the film business to sell their product, but Ouija doesn't exactly promote their popular board game in the most positive fashion, with almost every character who comes into contact with the game dying in a gruesome, but uninspired, fashion. The plot plays out like a poor man's Final Destination, but without the clever contrivance of its protagonists knowing the upcoming order of their impending deaths. There are not one, but two scenes involving a medicine cabinet mirror, the most over-played gag of the modern horror movie, and that sums up the lack of originality at play here.
Olivia Cooke seems to be establishing herself as something of a mainstream Scream Queen, her lead role here following her appearance in Hammer's The Quiet Ones and TV's Bates Motel. She makes for an effective final girl, possessing the elusive mix of strength and vulnerability required for such a role, but she's yet to find material worthy of her talents.
Oui? Ja? Non! Nein!
By Eric Hillis