As long as there’s good people willing to take a chance on new Indie horror, there will be folks who take advantage. We’ve all seen it, the spew of like-titled releases which appear after any runaway hit, gagging to cash-in on careless Amazon shopping or even just the clicks. This could be a cynic’s reading of Ben Demaree’s Ouija House, but the film does little to contend its trying to slide in alongside the Ouija film franchise and its unofficial sequels.
Roping in some early 2000’s stars for little more than cameo’s, Ouija House’s main allure could be its cast of cult stars. The O.C.’s Mischa Barton and Urban Legend’s Tara Reid are hardly the kind of horror royalty that add something to projects like this, so at least we have Dee Wallace, right? The veteran star is, as always, superbly watchable, but criminally underused considering she’s on the packaging. It’s a tit-bit cameo meant to lend some gravitas to an underwhelming feature, but the film is so bad it drags everyone with it. A surprise turn from Twin Peaks’ Chris Mulkey peaks interest but it’s a brief reprieve from a boring central cast. Mulkey, at least, is playing against type and does well with his cameo.
It could have been watchable if someone had thought how these ideas look on the screen. The house in which the horror takes place is supposed to be ancient, but looks like a swank contemporary valley mansion. The group of friends are supposed to be buddies but there’s not a shred of familiarity between them. The horror is hobbled by the lame performances, dodgy editing, and careless world-building to the point that Ouija House’s few thrills feel like thankful reprieves.
One of the girls turns her body into a Ouija board, and the ensuing horror sequence, in which a malevolent force pushes the pointer across her body, up her neck, over her chin, and down her throat with the group’s fingers still resting on it, is so bloody daft. Which is a shame because with better execution some of the scares might have landed. Tighter editing could have hidden some of the action issues, but the writing is still so wooden that it’s hard to get involved when every line of dialogue sounds so off. The big core idea could have worked, it’s not an automatic stinker, but the way in which it plays out just doesn’t.
Hailing from the dafter corner of straight-to-DVD horror, Ben Demaree’s Ouija House can be credited with two decent cameos and not much else.
OUIJA HOUSE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BEN DEMAREE / SCREENPLAY: JUSTIN HAWKINS, JEFF MILLER / STARRING: MISCHA BARTON, TARA REID, CARLY SCHROEDER, DEE WALLACE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW