Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Review: Ouija

World of Blackout Film Review

Ouija Poster

Cert: 15 / 89 mins / Dir. Stiles White
WoB Rating: 3/7

The trick with supernatural horror as a genre is making your audience believe in the threat, at least for the duration of the film. If they go into the theatre already convinced that the angry spirits of the netherworld are waiting to pounce upon the living via wooden SMS messaging, then that's fine. If hardline skeptics emerge blinking into the foyer afterwards, shrugging off an hour and a half of solid scares, that's also fine. But if you make no attempt to convince the doubters, even through characters in your film, then it's going to be an eye-rolling ride. There are no cynical characters in Ouija, just a bunch of teenagers who appear to be auditioning for Final Destination 6.

Ouija is a film for the emotionally vulnerable people who, in the wake of the unexplained death of a close friend, think that the best way of dealing with that grief and confusion is by waving a flag into the spirit world and seeing who's up for a chat. Ouija is a film for people who, when reacting to an unknown intruder on the other side of a door, hide in the closet. Ouija is a film for people who have a stern old Puerto Rican housemaid who appears only three times; once to establish her character, once to tut and frown at the ouija-board, and finally to tell them how to destroy it*1. Ouija is a film for anyone born in the last twenty years who absent-mindedly toys with a plastic penguin on a ball-chain not realising that it's a novelty USB-drive, despite it looking exactly like a novelty USB-drive. Ouija is a film for people whose unlit house at midnight is perfectly navigable, but who need an actual torch to see in a short underpass with daylight streaming in from both ends. Ouija is a film for any teenager in this actual day and age who'd approach their grieving friend holding a spirit-board and ask, without an iota of irony, "…what's that?"

Ouija is a film which realises it's been staggeringly lacklustre in its build up, so for its third-act revelation not only employs an attic and a basement, but also some old black-and-white photographs, a creepy child's doll and wheels out (literally) Insidious's Lin Shaye to explain the last sixty minutes and set up the next twenty five.

Ouija is a film for the chronically lazy.

Not as outright hateful as some of this year's horror flicks, the film is at least reasonably effective in what it does; the problem is that What It Does is lazily rehash every mid-budget horror made in the last 30 years. If this had been released straight to video in 1985 then it might have been good enough to make the grade.
But, y'know. It wasn't.
And, y'know. It isn't.

"And don't forget kids: messing around with makeshift spirit-boards invariably has bad consequences for the psychologically vulnerable, as this film goes to show!

That's why you should always use an official Hasbro Ouija™ Board instead.*2

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
There are a few nice shots in the film's climactic scenes, but that's pretty much it.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh Michael Bay's one of the film's producers, so it probably does, yes.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If anything, this is a DVD for a bunch of teenage girls to watch and shriek over.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I just might.

Will I watch it again?
I just won't.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There just isn't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
How come when doe-eyed Laine is creeping around a dark attic with the torch/flash on her smartphone it illuminates a radius of approximately two feet, but when some fuckwit four rows in front of me checks their texts during the movie, the light from the screen alone makes the auditorium wallpaper visible?

*1 "The connection's too strong, you won't be able to break it by destroying the board! Oh, but also, you've got to destroy the board."

*2 Nope. Not even fucking kidding. There's a plug for it in the film's end-credits. They've actually managed to top Battleship. Next stop, Hangman, I shouldn't wonder…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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