Guest Post: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Open wide – come inside

(Meredith is on holiday and the two guest posters did a ship-shape job, but forget the all important star rating system, the end is nigh af right now)

Did anyone know this was a sequel? No? Neither did we. Usually we are religious in our system of watching the original or predecessors before seeing the new, but Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) has gone ahead and killed that tradition.

Hi friend! We are Rhiannon and Sam, and we ain’t afraid of no ghost. Last week we saw Ouija: Origin of Evil on opening night, and today we legally obtained Ouija (2014) and are now going to write a lil’ something something for Meredith and you!

To be honest, half of us (Rhiannon, not Sam) had low expectations of Ouija: The Sequel You Didn’t Know Was a Sequel. The trailer had some pretty aesthetics, granted, the 60s costumes and décor were killing it, Elizabeth Reaser is reliable, and there were enough creepy graphics that hooked us. However, we assumed that the trailer probably showed the best parts of the film; particularly the backbreaking, wide open mouth shot. You know the one. We’re huge fans of the ‘keep the shot going longer than necessary to make the audience feel uncomfortable’ technique (there’s probably a name for that), and the trailer seemed to utilise it well. So, the good parts, well, we thought we’d seen them. And the verdict… it is not often either of us admit to being wrong, but friend… we were wrong (mostly Rhiannon though). Ouija: We Regret the First So We’re Not Marketing This as a Sequel is really good, albeit less gay (we can find queer girls in anything, trust us).

Let’s start with some FAQ. No, you don’t need to see the first before seeing this. Rhiannon did, Sam did not, and the conclusion is that this is better as either a standalone, or the first instalment (placing the emphasis on ‘pre’ in prequel). Yes, you should eventually watch them both for the sake of comparison. No, we still aren’t 100% sure how to pronounce Ouija (wee-gee or wee-jar). Yes, you should avoid small White children at all costs.

The plot is straight forward. A grieving family lives below the poverty line, surviving by scamming people into thinking they are contacting their passed love ones. The con is on, and the whole family play a roll. The youngest of the two sisters, Doris, appears to have a real gift. She is a medium, or so the family think. Psych! She’s pretty much just possessed and is gonna cause a lot of trouble for erryone! And so on and so forth. It’s not the plot you’re paying for though, is it? It’s how scared you feel. How many times you hide behind your hands. How loud it can make you scream (or in Rhiannon’s case yell half-finished sentences such as, “well that is…”). If that’s what floats your boat, Ouija is worth the $10 you’d pay at Arndale or West Lakes (maybe even the $20 at Marion).

Yes, you see a lot of the spooks in the trailer. However, what you don’t see is context. The cinematography is not only beautiful, but it sets up the delivery of jump scares (which aren’t over used), contorted faces, and shadowy figures to have maximum impact. We don’t want to spoil anything for you, but trust us – there is one moment which was terrifying not because of what was on screen, but more how it arrives. There are multiple moments throughout the film where you could freeze the shot, and hang it on the wall as art. It’s pretty, it’s creepy, and it’s visually a very satisfying film. We would especially like to give a shout out to whoever designed the opening title shot, and the rolling credits.

Other special mentions go to our three lead actors. Reaser, Annalise Basso, and Lulu Wilson are believable as a grieving, vulnerable, but totally badass family. Wilson has the creepy little girl vibe on lock, and Basso’s moments of utter heartbreak are really quite good. The set design is nice, and anchoring the story in grief not only connects this sequel to the original, but helps gives the characters motivation. Also, there is a moment between Doris and big sister Lina’s boyf that will genuinely make you smile in a ‘I am very nervous re: this small child’ kind of way. It’s so good.

So… it’s significantly better than the original, but it isn’t up there with comparable films like The Conjuring (2013). It is riddled with clichés, the problematic ‘boys will be boys lol’ priest Father Tom is one dimensional, there was unnecessary romantic sub-plots (we, too, bond about dead spouses over lobster), the soundtrack was a non-event, and it was somewhat predictable (obviously, if you’ve seen the first then you know exactly how it must end). However, nothing is perfect (except us) so we can overlook these flaws.

Look, it’s not as scary as Tom Hanks’ well-portrayed David S. Pumpkins, but it’s pretty damn good. There are some great one liners, it is spooky enough, and the vibe is spot on. Unless you’re going to one of the many Halloween parties that Meredith is going to, you might as well go see it. Just don’t go alone, don’t watch it in a graveyard, and always say goodbye.

Until next time Meredith lets us write A Thing,

Rhiannon and Sam.

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P.S. The Trailers:

One of the best parts about seeing horror films in the cinema is the trailers. We won’t talk about Doctor Tilda Swinton Isn’t An Asian Man (2016) or The Great Wall That Keeps Asian People From Being Represented In Films (2017). Instead, we’re going to focus on Rings (2017) and Split (2017). Meredith has already expressed her concern about the newest instalment to the v. popular The Ring franchise. We share that sentiment, but are interested to see Samara utilise 2016 technology. Split, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, has potential. We mean, all his films do. They’re a risk though. You can pretty much expect a massive plot twist, but the gamble is if it’s good. The Village (2004)… good. The Happening (2008)… not so good. James McAvoy looks to be killing it (for real), and Anya Taylor-Joy and Haley Lu Richardson are both quality. The whole ‘split personality equals killer’ thing isn’t exactly a new concept (or a psychologically valid concept) but maybe Shyamalan’s take on it will be refreshing.

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