UK Release Date: 31st October 2014
Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Stiles White
Writer: Stiles White, Juliet Snowden
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca A Santos, Lin Shaye, Shelley Hennig
Synopsis: A group of teenagers repeatedly uses a spirit board to try and communicate with their dead friend after her sudden, mysterious suicide.
The Halloween season of 2014 was more interesting than most, with Horns and The Babadook providing an antidote to the usual bland jump scares. Providing the poison is terrible supernatural chiller Ouija, which comes from Hasbro, Platinum Dunes and shit-shovelling producer extraordinaire Michael Bay.
Laine (Olivia Cooke) is deeply troubled by the sudden suicide of her friend Debbie (Shelley Hennig) and seeks comfort by contacting her through a Ouija board. She recruits her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), friend Isabelle (Bianca A Santos) and sister Sarah (Ana Coto) to help her reach the other side. Initially happy with their progress, they soon realise that the spirit they’ve unleashed is not who they think she is.
It’s difficult to know where to begin when criticising Ouija. Perhaps it’s biggest crime is that it fails to complete the most basic of tasks – the jump scare. By overusing false scares and failing to build any real tension, director Stiles White doesn’t so much as raise a small shudder throughout the film’s thankfully lean running time.
| "As friends we’ve gathered, hearts are true. Spirits near, we call to you."
Then there’s the script. With Ouija, White and co-writer Juliet Snowden have penned one of the dullest films in recent memory, filled with dialogue that doesn’t so much clunk to the floor as crash through into the basement. None of the characters speak like a human being, or even a cinematic approximation of what a human being might sound like.
Olivia Cooke, fresh from her terrific showing in the otherwise awful The Quiet Ones, is about as generic a horror film leading lady as they come. She’s sentimental, naive and uninteresting – an amalgamation of genre characters of the past. That said, she’s still the most memorable person in a film that is full of infuriatingly blank canvases. Even a one-dimensional character would’ve been an improvement.
By the time the film starts to up the ante and set up its finale, any interest quickly dissipates in the face of barmy plot developments. Insidious star Lin Shaye pops up to deliver an enormous exposition dump, setting up a nonsensical climactic set piece that packs implausibility on top of ridiculousness.
| "It’s coming for all of us. So who’s next?"
It’s almost impressive that Ouija manages to drag so much given its short running time. With fewer than 90 minutes to play with, Ouija should’ve been a concise slice of Halloween fun with a couple of spooky moments. Instead, it’s just a dull commercial for Hasbro’s oddest toy.
Pop or Poop?
As far as horror movies go, Ouija should have been a fairly easy one to get right. However, writer-director Stiles White fails to put together the basic recipe of tropes and jump scares. What’s left is an almost offensively dull mess.
Ridiculous plot developments and poor acting make the problem worse, creating what is easily the worst horror film of the year.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.