Ouija: Origin of Evil
ouija | ouija: origin of evil | mike flanagan | jeff howard | elizabeth reaser | lulu wilson | annalise basso | sequel | ghost | ghosts | ritual | possessed | possession | haunted | haunted house | drama | mystery | thriller | united states | china | japan | doug jones
Film: Ouija: Origin of Evil
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson and Annalise Basso
This prequel to Ouija I was really interested in checking out due to it being written and directed by Mike Flanagan. I actually only checked out the original to ensure if there was any carry over, I would know it. To get into this, the synopsis is in 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughter add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is.
Something I can really say about this film is that it really authentic about when it was set. From how they dress, their speech and even how the Ouija boxes look. That is something I wanted to touch on and was really impressed by. It kicks off with Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) as she is having a séance with Mr. Browning (Sam Anderson) and his daughter Jenny (Kate Siegel). They ask questions to his passed away wife and are freaked out when a presence is there, behind a curtain. It ends up getting too intense and the two leave. Alice decides not to charge them from what happened.
It turns out though that they are running a scam. The candles that blow out during are done by the youngest daughter, Doris (Lulu Wilson). The presence we saw was the other daughter Lina (Annalise Basso). We learn from some interesting scenes that the father has passed away. The family is trying to get on without him, but it is a struggle. Doris is carrying on like he is just not home while Lina is acting out. We see her sneak out that night to go to a party. It is here that we meet a boy who has a crush on her, Mikey (Parker Mack) and we get introduced to an Ouija board and the rules of them. The party is broken up and Alice has to pick her daughter up.
Lina makes a comment about buying an Ouija board for their scam and Alice does that. She comes up with a way to make it move without using her hands. She actually also tries to play it, but can’t get it to work. Doris tries later that night and thinks she is talking to her father.
Doris slowly changes and her family realizes that she actually has contacted spirits. Alice decides to actually use this to help those that seek her out, but the problem is the spirits they are contacting might not be the ones they think. Doris has a dark entity that is latching on to her. They do seek the aid of the principal at the Catholic school the girls attend, Father Tom (Henry Thomas), to help save the daughter and the family.
I’ve already touched on the realism of time period, as being good. The other thing that I really have to give to Flanagan was he incorporated things from the original as well. The original film I didn’t find to be that good and had problems. When Doris first contacts the spirit, it spells ‘Hi Friend’. This is a recurring motif in the other film. This is the only time that we see it, but I thought it got a bit repetitive in that film. The rule to not play alone is used again, but this one builds on the mythology of not playing in a graveyard, which I thought was a good touch.
Going from there, being that this was a prequel you kind of know how things are going to happen. I have to admit though, despite that, this film has a much more interesting storyline. Any sequel or prequel really needs to take the good things from the previous film and to build more on the story. I actually think that this one does that. They also use looking through the planchette, you can see the entities. This gives the history of the entities, why they are there and what they are doing. I was concerned for a bit that it wasn’t going to sync up, but I definitely like how it plays out. It actually even explains why the events in that film happen, which is a plus.
With that, I’d say that the film’s editing is good as well. The film has a normal runtime and it moves through at a good pace. I was never bored and it kept me engaged. I heard good things about this one, but the original had me slightly intrigued how it could play out. For this, I definitely wanted to know more as things were revealed, which it definitely did. It was well done.
The acting of the film was something that was really good as well. I have noticed is that Flanagan likes to use the same actors for his films. Basso who was previously in Oculus is our main character. I thought she did a really good job in this and I was quite impressed. I do want to see her do more in the genre for sure. Reaser was good as the mother. She has an interesting position of needing money, but also needing to do what is right. I thought it gave the film an added dimension. Wilson intrigued me as she is a cute kid. Some of the lines she said made her quite creepy and the duality of her character was solid. Thomas was good as the priest. I like that he has enough doubt early on, but the more the evidence presents. Doug Jones makes an appearance in this film as a ghoul. I’m always a fan of his work whether he has lines or not, he can do a lot with just movements and physical acting. Also want to shout out the small appearance by Siegel as well. The rest of the cast round the film for what they needed.
Effects for the film were something else that I thought were well done. This film doesn’t really rely on jump-scares too much, which I’m glad they went away from. The look of Jones was pretty creepy. I thought the glowing eyes were a good touch. Something else that was good was the eyes of those that are possessed. Making them completely white I thought was a creepy effect. I do believe there was some CGI in this film, but it didn’t bother me. The effects were pretty solid I would say.
Now with that said, this film is the rare case where the prequel is much better than the original. I thought this one had just a much more interesting story, even though I know how it was going to end. It introduced us to more mythology while ensuring that everything lined up as it was supposed to. It was edited together in a way that kept things moving and made me interested in seeing what happened next. Coupling with that was good acting and effects. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt it. I definitely think this is an above average film and I’m still impressed by all of the films I’ve seen from Flanagan. I would recommend this one for sure if you like ghost, haunted house or possession films.
My Rating: 7 out of 10