Bad horror movies come out all the time. That’s normal. That’s expected. Hell, for fans of the genre, it’s even a bit of a fun challenge, to weed through the muck of bad film after bad film to find that gem in the rough, the one that you could proudly put up on a pedestal and about which say, “Hah! Demon Goblins VI may have sucked, but It Follows kicked absolute ass!” So yeah, the world is not suffering for lack of bad horror movies. And that’s fine. The unforgivable sin, though, is for a horror movie to be boring. To watch actors just lazily go through the motions for 90 minutes (“Hey, it’s just a bat. Oh, no. It’s really a vampire bat. Argh. Blargh. I’m dead.”), see the end credits roll, and then wonder how, exactly, it’s possible to have literally no reaction to an hour and a half of film. And that’s exactly what we got with the movie Ouija. Originally, in my head, this was going to be a kind of dual Ouija / Ouija: Origin of Evil review. I had this idea I could say something at least mildly interesting about this rare example of a sequel being leaps and bounds better than the original, but look, I really have nothing of consequence to say about Ouija. It’s a horror movie about a board game, and it’s about as fun as when you were ten years old and played with an actual Ouija board: certainly not the worst weekend of your adolescent life, but not an activity you’re gonna make a billboard and collector’s edition t-shirts about, either. It’s a thing that happened, and it didn’t kill you, and the minute it was over you forgot all about it. But then an interesting thing happened with the sequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil. The filmmakers took a bad initial idea, which had already spawned one bad movie, and decided the most sensible course of action was to try again on a sequel. And the end result? An enjoyable movie. Seriously. This shouldn’t be seen as a “sequel” (or “prequel”, whatever) to a movie that’s already been released, so much as an apology and attempt at a mulligan. Were it me, I would have just called this newer film Ouija, as well, promoted it as if that other Ouija board movie had never happened, and then acted as if everyone around me were the crazy ones when they asked me about this being a sequel (“Sequel? What are you talking about? This is the first Ouija board movie that’s ever been made. Who’d be stupid enough to do this twice?”). Yes, there are moments in Ouija 2: The Ouijaing that harken back to the original film—the first time the board itself appears onscreen is accompanied by a dramatic dun-dun-dun! kind of musical overtone, and one character, at the film’s end, is revealed to have a connection to the first film that we’re expected to care about (we don’t)—but for the most part, this is an entirely self-contained work that manages to be downright entertaining. I will caution, though: Anyone going into Ouija Strikes Back expecting a revelatory film experience, lured in (as I was) mostly by the overwhelmingly positive reviews, is likely to be sorely disappointed. For this is a film, I feel, that’s earned its positive reputation based primarily, it not entirely, on the shortcomings of its predecessor. If you go into the movie completely blind, you’ll likely enjoy it, while at the same time find yourself wondering what all the hype was about. It’s only if you go in with the bad taste of the first film still coating your palette that you may find yourself singing its praises from the mountain tops. In its own right, though, it’s still a solid film—just not a life-changing one. It principally concerns a family of three, a mother and three daughters, who run a business contacting spirits for the benefit of loved ones still alive. The whole thing, of course, is very quickly revealed to be a scam, and in order to keep the charade from getting stale they decide to buy one of those new-fangled Ouija boards to integrate into the show. For reasons that are “explained” but which are never really explained, the board is nothing but a lifeless prop when used by the mother or the eldest daughter, but when the youngest girl, a quality graduate of Creepy Horror Movie Kids University, takes a spin, all sorts of evil spirits rear their ugly decapitated heads. What follows is about 45 minutes of cheap jump scares and adequately rendered CGI ghosties, with at least one truly effective scene: the young ghost whisperer, long a subject of torment for the school bullies, gets her revenge when the jerk aims his slingshot at her and, using her new mind control powers, she gets him to turn the projectile back on himself. Normally, I bemoan the state of the PG-13-ification of horror movies (less blood and guts = less R ratings = more box office), but this particular bit of violence taking place offscreen, with just a closeup of the little girl’s face filling the frame, while anguished cries and terrified screams occur in the background, is actually quite well done, and undoubtedly much more effective than had we gotten a close shot of the bully actually slingshotting a stone into his own face. This scene is by far the movie’s strongest, and everything else is, unfortunately, quite uneven otherwise. An uninspired, utterly predictable finale chase serves as our climax, while we get our contractually required last-second jump scare, followed by a post-credits “twist” that, really, isn’t interesting at all. I struggle to give an overall assessment of The Return of the Ouija. The closest I can come is this: a couple weeks ago, my wife and I were sitting on the couch, not motivated enough to actually go do something, but not pathetic enough to go to bed at 7pm, either. Scrolling through Netflix, we came across the ‘90s Ben Stiller comedy Heavyweights and decided to give it a watch. An hour and a half later, the movie was over, and we had laughed a couple times, cringed a few more, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t give anything more the broadest plot outlines if put on the spot. But I can say this: It’s a hell of a lot better than Air Bud. And that’s sort of my impression of Ouija: Origin of Evil. It was an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, not memorable enough to dwell on many particular moments, but leaps and bounds beyond the quality of the first Ouija. Origin of Evil may, as a whole, struggle to rise to the level of other recent horror classics, and its overwhelmingly positive critical reception may seem mostly unwarranted, but it wasn’t boring. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting through Dracula 2000, Blair Witch: Book of Shadows, or, indeed, Ouija, you know what an unforgivable sin it is to be a boring horror movie. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.