NOVEMBER 23, 2014
It's been a long time since I've written a full review for a movie I'd almost deem "Crap", but dammit if Ouija wasn't THAT insulting that I felt I had to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be) and hopefully warn off anyone else who stupidly looked at this thing's 50 million gross and 2 week reign as the #1 movie as some indication that it might be at least halfway decent. In a year that saw movie after movie fail to even break 20m, I am baffled why THIS managed to strike a chord, and you can't say "Teens are dumb" because they were smart enough to stay away from The Quiet Ones, and that was also PG-13 and had the same star (Olivia Cooke, the only reason this ISN'T being tagged "Crap" because I continue to be impressed by her flawless American accent). I guess the Halloween thing can account for some, but not why I found myself in a fairly crowded theater 3 weeks later (and on a Sunday afternoon to boot). Why are people STILL going to see this goddamn movie?
Because believe me, I can still be entertained by movies aimed squarely at teen horror fans. Prom Night, Haunting in Connecticut, etc - these movies are harmless and even enjoyable at times, so you can be assured I'm not simply "above" this sort of thing. But CHRIST this one is lazy and generic, without a single inspired moment in the entire thing, save for maybe the framing of the opening death scene, which was given away in the trailer anyway. Throughout the movie I just kept wondering when it was going to kick into high (or, 2nd) gear, until I realized that there were only about 10 minutes left and thus it never would. I know the fact that it's a Platinum Dunes production automatically puts a target on it, but even their biggest critics should be able to admit that there was SOME spark of life in their Friday and Chainsaw remakes - this just joins The Unborn and Horsemen as evidence that they should probably just stick to remakes.
It's hard to imagine even teens getting too worked up about the movie, which ironically could have benefited from more fake scares or something, just to stir the audience awake (oddly it's the one movie I DIDN'T doze off during in the past month). It takes forever for the malevolent spirit from the Ouija board to start killing the bland group of friends at the movie's center, and those moments are pretty much the only ones of terror in the damn thing. Unless the director thinks that watching some teens play with the board and say "Who's moving it?" is terrifying enough on its own? Otherwise I'm actually kind of baffled where the scares were supposed to be. Every now and then there will be a bland moment like a door opening on its own and momentarily creeping out Cooke or one of her pals, but they and thus the audience forgets all about it in the next couple seconds.
Hell, the movie can't even do exposition right. It takes an hour for anyone to bother trying to find out who the spirit might be, and this of course leads to our heroine pretending to be a relative in order to get into a nursing home, because that's what people do in these movies and damned if Stiles White and Juliet Snowden will dare to introduce anything that might be considered a "wrinkle" into their horribly generic script! And wouldn't you know it, the old lady is Lin Shaye, so we can momentarily think about Insidious and get back in a good mood, and hopefully not think too hard about why she's being so nice to Cooke so that we can be all the more SHOCKED when it turns out she's kind of crazy and on the bad ghost's side. The plot, such as it is, pretty much boils down to yet another instance where our heroes need to find a long-dead corpse and either bury it properly or burn it (the latter, in this case), something you probably could guess in the first five minutes even though every single thing about it is confined to the third act.
So what fills the rest of that runtime? It's been 3 days and I honestly can't remember. I DO recall laughing that all of our heroes are very retro, because they still develop photos of casual hangouts and film themselves goofing off with a regular video camera instead of their phones, as if Snowden and White wrote this in 2001 and never bothered to update it for the smart phone age (cells DO appear, but only to deliver text messages). And the production was too cheap to secure posters from any major (real?) bands, so they all have generic posters in their rooms (hung at odd angles, of course), but no actual CDs or things of that nature. License plates are also generic - Cooke's car has 2GAT123, which is the "555" of license plate numbers. I also remember that there's a laughably awful bit of foreshadowing where Cooke instructs her boyfriend to check out a pool cover, and we see him struggle to reach it and close it, which I guess makes his inevitable fall into the pool/getting caught in the pool cover scene an hour alter all the scarier?
But mostly I just remember thinking how insulting the whole thing was, and how I felt bad for the teens that this was being peddled to. Obviously you can't go into Inside territory when you're aiming your movie at kids who aren't even old enough to drive, but come the fuck on here. You don't need me to list the good PG-13 horror movies, because every horror site has compiled one as easy hit bait as if it's a super rare thing that a non-R horror movie is good (spoiler: it isn't). This movie was seemingly designed exclusively to watch at sleepovers, but even on that level it's a complete waste of time and money. Even the IMDb trivia can't even be bothered to put any effort into things; one of the entries is simply "The main character is also on Bates Motel". That's not trivia!
Go to hell, Ouija. Even Haunted House 2 had more energy than this.
What say you?