Ouija

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Debbie (Shelley Hennig) holding the planchette with the glass to view things from the ‘Other Side’.

Director: Stiles White.

Cast: Olivia Cooke, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca Santos, Ana Coto.

Rating: ** (2 of 5 stars).

Length: 89 minutes.

Opening: Now showing.

Plot: Halloween is just around the corner and that can only mean one thing… horror films hitting the big screens. It has been a long while since Hollywood produced something truly original in the horror genre. In fact, it is rather difficult to search one’s memory of anything in the past decade that has even come close to the shock and entertainment value that 1999’s The Sixth Sense brought audiences, and sadly, Ouija doesn’t even come close.

Gone are the days of The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining, which were movies that have now become synonymous with the horror genre. Whether Hollywood scriptwriters have just run out of ideas, or if talented horror movie directors have come and gone, we’ll never know.

The movie starts, predictably, with the death of a young teenager under suspicious circumstances. Unwilling to accept the fact that her best friend Debbie (Shelley Hennig) had committed suicide, Laine Morris (played by Cooke) and her friends decide to try and contact her using an Ouija board that Debbie finds in her attic.

That’s when strange things start happening, and the five friends find themselves slowly being killed one by one in mysterious “accidents”. Laine and Pete (Smith) — Debbie’s boyfriend — head online to do some sleuthing, eventually unearthing evidence that a little girl was murdered by her mother in Debbie’s house. The discovery prompts Laine to visit a mental asylum to speak with the little girl’s sister, who is still alive.

Unbeknownst to the teenagers, the body of Doris (the little girl who died in the house) is still in the basement, having been sealed up by her medium mother, who was using the girl in her séances as a vessel for the dead to speak through. Driven mad by the evil spirits that possessed her daughter, she stitched her daughter’s mouth up to keep her from speaking the words of evil and locked her in a room in a basement, leaving her to die.

Doris is subsequently reported missing, and nothing becomes of the police’s searches for her. It is widely speculated that her mother is behind her disappearance.

Basically, Ouija is a movie so filled with clichéd scenes, plot twists and scare tactics that one could easily fall asleep in the theatre. Aside from the fact that all the actors do a pretty good job with the overdone, been-there-before script, there really isn’t much that Ouija brings to the table that hasn’t been seen before.

The movie is a weird mash-up of Coraline (without the magic and the Burton essence of the animation that is), down to the “looking glass” that enables the viewer to see what the naked eye can’t see, and the slew of ghost movies that’s in the Hollywood library. Even the twist ending is so unbelievably predictable that they should have just done away with it and that might have made it less predictable!

Maybe going to the theatre to see Ouija would be a good way to spend your money if you like watching good looking actors. The entire cast, from the lead actress to the most minor character is a treat for the eyes!

Bottom line: perhaps bringing your child/nephew/niece/little sibling trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood would be a better way to spend your Halloween… and it would probably cost a lot less as well, not to mention the yummy candy that you would get to savour after the trip!

Left: The five friends playing together.  
Right: Laine and Sarah go upstairs to investigate some weird sounds.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 30, 2014.