Ouija: Origin Of Evil Is So Much Better Than The Original It’s Scary
For most families, trying to connect with the dead is simply a spooky good time, but the Zanders have a deeper connection to this practice, as (a) the family patriarch died in a car accident and (b) they now derive their income from the mother’s business as a medium. Working with the assistance of daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson), Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) knowingly deceives the public into believing they are corresponding with the dead, but she also has the delusion that she’s performing some kind of public service. All things considered, this family seems to be making the best of a bad situation—until Alice buys a Ouija board, bringing a little too much paranormal authenticity to the Zander home.
Too young to fully respect the powers of Ouija, Doris casually uses the board to establish contact with her dead father, but this innocent pursuit soon turns nightmarish when she finds herself possessed by a demon. This gives the young girl dangerous powers and ideas, shocking just about everyone who crosses her path. When Alice and Lina realize they need some help with the Doris situation, they turn to Father Tom (Henry Thomas), a priest grieving a spouse of his own. From there, the crisis only escalates—with blood curdling results.
In all likelihood, potential viewers of Ouija: Origin of Evil fall into one of three camps: those who liked the original, those who hated the original, and those who wisely ignored the original’s existence. If you think only the first of these groups qualifies as the audience for this chapter, you’re dead wrong, as it turns out this is essential viewing for horror fans of all kinds. With this prequel, co-writer/director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) has found the ideal way to make a follow-up free of its predecessor’s shortcomings: simply pretend the original doesn’t exist.
Rather than feel restricted by Ouija, Flanagan uses the resources earned by its commercial success to craft a period horror film of rare craftsmanship and specificity. Set in late ’60s California, this film has no shortage of satisfying jump scares and shocking imagery, but rather than surrender to the formulaic cruise control mentality of so many modern horror films, Flanagan uses the period setting as an excuse to focus on everyday specifics (music, clothing, cars) that make us feel more emotionally invested in the characters and their horrifying ordeal. To some extent, this stirs memories of The Conjuring, but Flanagan does an even better job immersing us in his film’s period, going above and beyond with details like the old school Universal logo and even reel change cue marks sprinkled throughout the film.
If you’re wondering why Flanagan is slowly emerging as a new master of horror, look no further than the scripts he has crafted with writing partner Jeff Howard. Rather than simply riff on the horror films of their youth, these writers are creating original films with the kind of rich storytelling we once associated with the best Stephen King adaptations. Their next film? An adaptation of King’s Gerald’s Game.
Ouija: Origin of Evil haunts theatres today. While it never hurts to leave room for surprise, if you need a little more convincing, the trailer below should do the trick.