The scariest thing about the new horror film “Ouija” is that you might get crushed under its pile of cliches or fall out of your seat from boredom. From the blonde who becomes the first fodder for the creature in a cursed house to the insistence all efforts to stop the spirit can only be done in the dead of night, the makers of this pre-Halloween release wouldn’t recognize an original idea if it was spelled out on an Ouija board.
As a tribute to this film, it should now be called a Ouija bored.
First-time (and if there is any justice last-time) director Stiles White co-wrote the script with Juliet Snowden. They really had to work hard to have two writers and not even accidentally stumble upon one person, place or thing of interest. All they have done is sew together moments from other films and try to pass it off as something new. It’s clear from the start how much they have failed.
It starts lamely enough. Laine (Olivia Cooke) goes into grieving after her Ouija-working BFF, Debbie (Shelley Hennig), dies under mysterious circumstances. This leads to a group of friends using a Ouija board to try to find out what happened.
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Their efforts sets off a long, slow slog through explanations, a few loud noises and enough foreshadowing to create an eclipse. When the deaths finally occur, it’s not a matter of how scary they are by why it took so long for them to happen.
The crushing problem is White neither has the story nor actors to create any tension. Cooke’s deadpan expressions are only trumped by the vanilla performance by the two male victims (Douglas Smith, Daren Kagasoff). There are two other female members of this merry band of demon whisperers but they might as well have been cardboard cutouts.
There’s so little material, White’s forced to make the actors go out of their way to be near scarey moments. Everyone knows when you get to a creepy part of a bike path you don’t get off and push the bike.
It hurts that in an effort to open the film to a larger audience, the scares are kept at a PG-13 level. Moviegoers can no longer be terrified by a few mysterious noises, flashlights that don’t work and sewn together lips. All of these have been used in previous horror films and used much better.
White and Snowden could have saved the movie with only a few minor changes. Instead of following the worn out path of haunted houses with evil spirits, they could have given the movie a clever twist by having one of the group committing the murders. At least that would have given the movie a slightly different angle instead of the bland linear direction it takes.
Toss in a forgettable soundtrack, film school lighting and a pacing that’s one heart beat above a coma and “Ouija” never points to anything frightening. Should you go see this movie? Do whatever you have to do to move the planchette to say “NO.”