By Mark Saldana
Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
For adults, watching Ouija the movie is as much a waste of time as is playing with the “mystifying oracle”. I can honestly see (and actually did see at the screening) young teens eating this up, cringing in fright, and screaming at the mostly lame jump scares though. There have been several movies which involve some kind of spirit board or Ouija-type board, but this is the first official movie of the Ouija Board as approved by Hasbro. That said; Hasbro, a toy company that has been involved in film production now for over seven years, obviously does not care much about the quality of their projects. With the Transformers and G.I. Joe sagas and Battleship in their filmography, the company only wants to cash in on their game properties. They do not care that their movies are usually horribly conceived, written, and directed. Because Hasbro clearly has so much disdain for their audiences, I plead to my readers to avoid this movie at all costs.
Reeling after the death of her best friend Debbie (Shelley Hennig), Laine (Olivia Cooke) has trouble making sense of the purported suicide. She begins looking for clues as to why her friend would have killed herself. After discovering that Debbie had been playing with a Ouija board, Laine, her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), friend Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos), boyfriend Trevor (Devin Kagasoff), and Debbie’s boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) attempt to use the board to uncover the real truth behind the tragedy.
Directed by Stiles White and written by White and Juliet Snowden, Ouija does have an interesting, though obviously not original, premise, but the writing and execution of the film is often silly, corny, and not all that scary. I can honestly say that I was only startled a couple of times, but never genuinely scared. The screenplay has some seriously bad dialogue, as well as some idiotic and predictable scenarios. The filmmakers put little effort into adding any sense of wonderment, discovery, or even suspense. Nearly all of the scare attempts fall flat because it is so easy to see them coming. The movie does have one unexpected twist, but not one that makes a difference whatsoever. By the time the “big reveal” comes, it has already become difficult to really care about it. The climax sequence also had me groaning and cringing in my seat as it goes to a ridiculously cheesy place.
I was not particularly impressed with the cast either. Olivia Cooke does just fine as Laine, but her character is so poorly written and developed that her decent acting had so little with which to work. The supporting cast offers a variety of stilted and over-acted performances. I had hoped that the appearance of Lin Shaye in the film would salvage the movie somewhat, but her character is so cliche that it doesn’t improve the film at all. In fact, her performance is so over-the-top in some moments that I have to question the choices made by White and his editor Ken Blackwell.
I would certainly have to question the logic behind people going to see this movie. If people are looking for something scary to watch during Halloween season, this is not the place to go. Horror fans are much better off watching horror movie classics at home. Once again, I plead my readers not to spend their money on this film. Hasbro needs to suffer some losses so that they can wise up and at least attempt to make watchable movies. Just because they have popular game titles, which have been their bread and butter for years, doesn’t mean they should pass off terrible movies with the same titles. It is time to give Hasbro a wake-up call, and make them realize that we deserve better.