It’s another experiment: how does one make a movie out of a board game? It’s also another experiment: how does one make a sequel to a film that wasn’t well received? With two things going against it, Ouija: Origin of Evil manages to the impossible: it makes a board game movie come to life with thrilling results and it’s the rare sequel that is far superior to the first.Set in the 1960’s, Fortune Reader Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is struggling to make cash to provide for her two children, rebel teen Lina (Annalise Basso) and adorable goody two shoes Doris (Lulu Wilson). The Zanders have rigged their living room to give the appearance that their bogus readings are legit. The candles burn out with the help of under the table buttons, and the two kids can make pictures fall down behind the curtains. Alice refuses to be seen as a “scam artist”, but merely a good, decent phony fortuneteller who helps her clients accept death and move on from their mourning. When a brand new board game sweeps the nation called Ouija, Alice is more than curious to see how she can manipulate the occult game to make her failing business boom. Ouija is designed to be a social game, a fun experiment to do at parties, but little does Alice know that her house just so happens to be haunted. Bringing this board game to the Zander residence means some serious trouble with some nasty sinister spirits. The demons soon find the perfect body to take over, precious little Doris, because who would ever suspect a little blond girl with flawless Doris Day hair? The possession allows Doris to seek revenge on the mean bullies at school, learn how to write in Polish cursive, and tell people what it’s like to be strangled to death in explicit detail. Thankfully the school principal is also a priest called Father Tom (Henry Thomas). Can Alice use her reading talents with the help from Father Tom‘s sacred collar to tackle the evil living under her roof?
The story is a pretty straightforward horror possession tale, but it is surprisingly well acted and very well paced. Reaser is charismatic as the sham palm reader with a strong moral code struggling to raise two kids and date a sexy priest. Basso is great as the mealy, angsty teen who just wants to drink and listen to sweet swinging 60’s bangers with her boyfriend, and Wilson is eerily creepy as the little blonde schoolgirl who makes friends with some mischievous demons. Henry Thomas is charming playing a priest/principal of all things, who is forced to question his holy faith after meeting the beautiful (and single) Alice who walks around in sexy 60’s wrap-arounds.
Director Mike Flanagan makes a fresh 60’s horror period piece. The first Ouija was a misfortune and it was set in modern times so technically this latest installment is a prequel, and it is leaps and bounds better than the first. Flanagan somehow managed to tell a compelling story with good acting and excellent technical support. There are many jump-out screams that will please horror audiences and a perfectly choreographed final scene that will make your jaw drop. It’s fun, it’s scary, and if you’re thinking of buying a Ouija board after, just remember to read all the rules.
Here is the trailer: