Ouija has conjured up low ratings almost everywhere, with a 4.4 here and a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, these sloppy reviews didn't stop a fantastic box office intake however, and due to its commercial success a sequel is in the works. No surprise there, but this is easily the weakest horror film from Blumhouse Productions in quite a while.
This supernatural horror is boring, it's an easy word to throw at a movie title but it genuinely is a bore to watch, especially seeing as most the characters here are paper thin and undeveloped. However, I will admire the fact that Ouija doesn't stick to the staple cliché horror characters like the usual cocky guy, the hot dumb girl and the black guy who bites the dust pretty quickly. Instead we are introduced to a bunch of close friends suffering from the loss of their friend after a supposed suicide, but none of these characters are memorable, let alone feature interesting motives or traits.
The scares are un-inventive and tame, eliciting only a minor shudder from me that leave no chills. A lot of the scenes are set during the day, a lot of Ouija is too bright and upbeat so when the night finally descends there's no element of creepiness or danger and peril for the characters.
There are countless horrors with sequences set in broad daylight that terrify me, check out The Pact, The Conjuring or any of the Insidious films for real daytime scares. Director Stiles White lends a finely polished product with some lovely still shots but fails to construct unease, his strongest moment sees the group of teens finally make contact with the entity that has reached out to them, I admit my hairs on my arms and neck stood up for a small amount of time, but then cheap jump scares creep in, ruining the atmosphere immediately.
Olivia Cooke is easily the lone bright spot, her performance is a great mixture of fear, sadness, confusion and motivation, this Manchester born actress is on her way to greater things, she's better than Ouija, as is Shelley Hennig who despite having less screen-time is convincing enough as a girl haunted by evil. Lin Shaye makes a welcome appearance that sees her ditch the ghost hunting confidence from the Insidious films to play a more vulnerable and innocent role.
A few good performances and well shot sequences aside, Ouija is hard to recommend, the ending is ridiculously silly and completely adds a campy tone to an already dull and overly serious horror that sits at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to scare tactics.