MOVIE REVIEW: OUIJA / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STILES WHITE / SCREENPLAY: JULIET SNOWDEN, STILES WHITE / STARRING: OLIVIA COOKIE, ANA COTO, DAREN KAGASOFF, BIANCA SANTOS, DOUGLAS SMITH, SHELLEY HENNIG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Since the termination of the Saw saga, the mantle of Halloween Movie Monarch has once again become a cluttered free-for-all as distributors fire out whatever substandard horror films they have sitting on their shelves in a cynical attempt to cash in on the love of fear and dread that the modern day bastardisation of Samhain brings out in us all.
In the spirit of this slightly contemptuous tradition, Michael Bay’s production house, Platinum Dunes, evidently now having progressed from churning out crap horror remakes to crap horror of all varieties (um… yay for equal rights?), brings us Ouija. If you couldn’t guess the general plot of the film from the title alone, after the mysterious suicide of a pretty blonde teenager her friends attempt to contact her using the titular game board to properly say goodbye (because the funeral and wake were apparently inadequate in this regard). But of course, it’s not a game – or you should “keep telling yourself it’s only a game,” as we are told by the eye-roll-inducing tagline that some marketing gimp actually got paid to come up with – and the gormless young things become tormented by a restless spirit who’s, like, totally trying to warn them about something.
That’s pretty much it in terms of story, and for the rest of the film we’re subjected to a laborious excuse for a plot that stretches even its 89-minute (including the credits) running time. The characters are so thin they’re barely even pale shadows of clichés, and aimless scenes that do nothing to advance what fragments of story are even present punctuate the absence of anything remotely engaging or frightening. The film even commits the cardinal sin of believing that flat-out lies are the same as misdirection when attempting to disguise a rubbish and predictable twist. Things eventually stumble towards the inadequate final confrontation, before which the surviving adolescents become armed with some sage advice from Ethnic Granny, along with the vaguely-offensive associated implication that only less civilised people (i.e. those of descent other than white European) have any notion of the supernatural and how to effectively combat it.
The only presence of any note is from main girl Laine, played by Olivia Cooke (The Quite Ones; Bates Motel) and who is far better than she’s allowed to be by the illiterate script from director Stiles White and Juliet Snowden (yes, it took two people to write this shit), while the doomed Debbie (Shelley Hennig, Teen Wolf’s semi-feral were-coyote Malia) is one of the film’s least boring characters despite checking out 10 minutes into it. Many scenes take place in the deceased girl’s bedroom, and using its lavish adornments to make up stories about her while attempting to suss out her personality is far more interesting than anything actually happening on screen.
Everything in Ouija has been done many times before, and far better, in films that weren’t any good, making the entire experience even more of a futile exercise in frustrated time wasting than usual.
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