Movie Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 horror movie starring Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso.

Synopsis: In 1967, Alice, a widowed mother of two daughters, tries to make ends meet by holding fake spiritual "readings" in her living room. Hoping to add a little extra to her act, Alice purchases a Ouija board only to discover her youngest daughter, Doris is seemingly able to use the board to really talk to the deceased. She decides to take advantage of this without realizing the evil she is unleashing in the process.

Review

I came across this movie yesterday evening, while waiting for our snowstorm to hit. I was skeptical at first, mostly because most movies involving a Ouija board are kind of dumb, but this film turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The main thing I enjoyed about this movie was the mystery surrounding the presence Doris (Wilson) was talking to. Was it really her father? Was it some other spirit (and, if so, who)? Or, after watching Alice (Reaser) pull off her elaborate seance scam, was she just doing it better?

More times than not, filmmakers ruin the plot by giving the viewer too many details too early in the movie. That was not the case in this film. Even as Doris continued to act more and more possessed, the movie kept just enough of the plot a secret to keep me interested. As I've said countless times before, predictability prevents movies from being scary. This film avoided that scenario and I can honestly say I had no idea how it would end.

I also found I liked the interaction between the various characters in this movie. You could sense the tension between the mother and daughters, especially when they were in danger of losing their house and I thought the "will they or won't they" potential romance emerging between Alice and the local priest (Thomas) was somewhat interesting, partly because I didn't know if it would have some sort of negative effect.

I will admit, I was a bit on the fence about the way the movie did eventually end, partly because it was a little confusing at first. However, after having time to reflect on it, I am willing to give that a passing grade as well. At minimum, it wasn't predictable (as I mentioned before) and that, alone, is worth giving the movie some points.

If I had any complaints about the movie, it would be the overall lack of backstory regarding Alice. Other than the fact her husband apparently died suddenly and her grandmother claimed to be a psychic, I thought the movie failed to give us much detail about why she decided to run a scam out of her house (that didn't even pay the bills) rather than getting an actual job. I mean, I get it was 1967, but I find it hard to believe someone wouldn't hire her for more money than she was scamming from people. But I guess I should take the fact this was a horror movie into consideration and just ignore that part.

Final Opinion

What more can I say? I didn't hate it. If you are looking for a decent horror flick to watch, I'd recommend it as a result.

My Grade: B

Updated: 12/30/2020, StevenHelmer
 
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