Review: "Ouija" conjures waste of time
“As friends we’ve gathered, hearts are true. Spirits near, we call to you.”
These words echo in my head like a broken record, a reminder of the squandered 1 hour and 23 minutes of my life I will never get back.
Yet, Stiles White’s (screenwriter behind “Knowing” (2009) and “Boogeyman” (2005)) directorial movie debut, “Ouija” surprisingly tops the weekend box office earning $20 million albeit the negative critiques it has received and scoring a pitiful 10 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For some of us moviegoers, this outlet is the web’s leading aggregator of movie and TV reviews from professional critics and the like, and a huge determinant whether a movie is fresh enough to be deemed worth spending a buck on.
Unfortunately for me, yours truly still went on to see this low-budget supernatural-horror flick despite the odds.
A movie based on the popular board game by Hasbro, the plot centers around doe-eyed high schooler Laine Morris, potrayed by Olivia Cooke (“Bates Motel”, “The Quiet Ones”), who is dead set to speak to her Ouija-obsessed dearly departed bestie, Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) in the afterlife. She endeavors to find some answers regarding the latter’s sudden and gruesome death after breaking one of the rules of the spirit game by playing alone by herself (gasp!).
Laine conveniently finds the same ancient spirit board Debbie messed around with in the attic, and convinces her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), her rebellious teenage sister Sarah (Ana Coto), her friend Isabelle (Bianca Santos), and Debbie’s mourning boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) to gravely investigate what truly happened in the old house where Debbie died.
They make contact with the dead and immediately assume that it is Debbie after the planchette, the circular-windowed triangular little plank of wood used as a spirit communication device together with the board, lands on the letter “D.” And we all know what happens to people who assume, right?
They soon realize that the spirit is in fact, not Debbie, and find themselves battling a belligerent and much bigger paranormal force to be reckoned with.
“Ouija” ultimately embodies your average, predictably boring mainstream “horror” movie which are, sadly, commonly produced nowadays. The tasteless cliché of a gas stove mysteriously turning on such as in the beginning scene, doors abruptly open and close as if pushed by an invisible force, mirrors reflect a strange and dark figure, a flashlight strangely rolls away and unsurprisingly comes to a halt only to illuminate a creepy message left by a supernatural being, and so on. These are only a few of the well-known typical "horror" tools that have become a playful part of the moviegoer process.
It’s safe to say that the movie fails miserably in the scare department, which mostly comes from what little cheap jump-scare tactics it has. Though, admittedly enough, the core séance of this $5 million movie does give off a pretty spooky vibe, which practically evaporates three minutes into the scene. The movie’s PG-13 rating is another feasible reason as to why it lacks real terror it so needs.
Aside from the lack of legitimate scares, the characters in this movie just seem like a bunch of turds that are only there for eye-candy, nothing more. They seem to have no common sense at all and have also apparently never seen a horror movie before in their young adult lives and, thus, make every possible mistake along the way.
There is one scene in which each character separately finds the words “Hi Friend” written everywhere they go after contacting the spirit they believe to be Debbie. The characters find the letter it typed on a laptop, carved into a desk, on a car window, as well as written in chalk.
Hilariously, Trevor sees the message while he is riding his bike, simultaneously while he's going under what seems to be an eerie and totally superfluous abandoned underpass. His character has absolutely no reason to be in this random and unnecessarily ill-omened location. And yet, there he, is riding aimlessly away.
If it weren’t for the truffle fries, lobster roll, fish tacos, and beer to accompany me for the duration of the movie (thank you iPic theater), yours truly would’ve completely dozed off watching a bunch of kids play a board game so horribly.
No, seriously. Take heed, and walk away from the board.