(The gist: While Ouija should have been mundane, formulaic, PG-13 level horror, it ended up being creepy enough for me to forgive all that and really enjoy it.)
When one of my favorite horror viewing partners told me that Ouija had so effectively creeped her out in the theater that she was scaring herself in the dark parking lot, it made its way onto my viewing list. Prior to this recommendation, I would have dismissed Ouija as just another PG-13 high school horror movie. Yet this viewing partner is well groomed and not faint of heart, so I trusted her judgement.
Ouija, as its title suggests, is centered on an Ouija board. Laine and Debbie play with the board as children. When Debbie plays alone, she ends up dead, leading her best friend and her friends to take on the same ancient spirit.
I am not entirely sure why Ouija was so successful for me. The premise and plotline are unimpressive. The characters are woefully flat. However, the movie is simply so very creepy. The suspense and the haunting elements are executed very well, enough to overshadow the other shortcomings.
The way the characters are killed by the spirit is potentially the most terrifying. Something about whiteout eyes and lips stitched closed.
The spirit is not especially developed in the movie. No elements really are fully developed. Whereas a haunting movie usually spends time on the backstory of the spirit and how it relates to the characters, Ouija was more abbreviated. This might have actually contributed to its success. Again, I am not quite sure why the movie worked for me. All the elements were flawed, yet it was scary enough for me not to care.
And when I can legitimately enjoy a haunting movie, that is always extra success.