Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring : Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas
The marks of a good horror film are that you leave the cinema reeling from what you just witnessed, heart racing, dreading the long, dark walk home. If you are looking for a thrill this Halloween, then I would highly recommend this Prequel Ouija (Origin of Evil), as this film does not disappoint for these reasons. I am told it’s a huge improvement from the first film, which in itself is an unusual anomaly.
Set in 1965, a recently bereaved wife Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) enlists the help of her two children Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) to scam the locals with their Séance act. After catching Lina using an Ouija board at a house party, Alice brings this classic prop into the scheme. Unknowingly this time, the evil spirits through the Ouija board, speak through Doris and eventually gain full control of her. With the help of the School Head teacher who is also a priest (of course he is a priest!) a series of gruelling, nail biting scenes unfold as Doris starts to take over the little suburban house.
From great recent Netflix shows like Stranger Things, we know that an all-star child cast can lead the way ahead, however I couldn’t quite get to grips with Lulu Wilson’s transformation from a sweet innocent girl to her work as a mediatory. I would assume any child would be pretty petrified if they started hearing the deceased! What lets the film down even more is how quickly Alice believed in the paranormal, for a scammer she shows little cynicism. I am a great believer in taking time to build an incredible storyline before anything jumps out at you! I felt the most convincing performance was played well by Annalise Basso, her journey was reflective of the viewers own, from distrust of the other worldly phenomena, to her sweet romance with the dreamy Parker Mack (who plays teenage heartthrob Mikey).
The shivers do set in when Lulu Wilson’s acting is enhanced by the CGI effects. Seeing the innocent Doris becomes engulfed by evil spirits, watching her bright doe blue eyes turn deep white and the cracking of her vertebrae itself, would be enough to make a cat’s hair stand on end. The film strongest point was building tension between scenes. Whilst the audience lets their guard down with some off beat comedic scenes, the ghouls come out to play. I know I was scared!
When I hear the words Ouija board, it conjures fear into me. I am a big fan of this amazing horror prop. Think Exorcist and Paranormal activity. As far I am aware, not other film has inventively used the board in this many ways. I loved how the writers used the board not only to summon spirits, but used the pointer as a looking glass to see into the spirit world, creating another visual dimension to the film. In the final scenes we see that the board itself isn’t necessary, as Lina discovers a way to transform to board through blood and her spectacles as a pointer. This continues the fear, as the medium of the board can be transformed.
Having watched the trailer, admittedly I was most excited to see this horror film because its set in 1960’s! Visually I enjoyed watching the late 1960’s design styles with the sleek flicked our hair, bright pastel tones and long ruffled dresses. As an avid horror fan, I very much horror set time periods without modern technology. It’s not scary when you can phone or email a friend with your smartphone. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule like The Ring.
The ending of the film encompassed many clichés of horror films, spooky basements, historically haunted houses but hey you could argue that this is what audiences are paying for, to see a story arc that had predictable scares in it. Overall, picture this, a group of your best mates sitting down this Halloween, clutching their popcorn tightly and enjoying this good horror film. It’s a thumbs up from me.