Friday, October 21, 2016
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Doris has trouble making friends and spends most of her free time helping her mother with seances or what she calls "readings." Business is dwindling with the act becoming stale and oujia boards are exploding in popularity, so her mother buys one as a prop to garner more customers. She never expected it to actually work. For a while, Doris helps her mother with readings directly, answering loved ones' questions, having the spirits move the planchette on their own, and sometimes even talking in their voices. However, Doris' behavior is becoming more and more erratic with strange things happening around her at an alarming and increasing frequency.
I expected Ouija: Origin of Evil to be completely horrible. The first film was a forgettable piece of garbage that made me want that hour and a half of my life back. This film, on the other hand, was delightful. It had everything I wanted: creepy atmosphere, suspense, an interesting story, and characters to care about. Doris, Lina, and their mother Alice struggle to survive. Alice conducts "readings" that she knows are just scams, but tells herself she's giving her rubes peace and closure. All suffer from the loss of the children's father, forcing Lina to grow up much faster to protect her sister. Even though I didn't always agree with their decisions, I cared about their whole family and what happened to them. They are hardworking people trying to live their lives despite great losses.
Doris starts out as a sweet but lonely girl struggling to come to terms with her father's death and her mother's job scamming people. She prays to her father every night to tell him about her day in order to cope. Her demeanor completely changes after she is attacked by an entity. She becomes more cold and calculating. Her previous kindness becomes a mask to hide her cruelty and lull those around her into a false sense of security. Her possession takes form visually with blank, white eyes and physical feats physically impossible for humans. This is achieved with CGI that I thought would be distracting, but proved to be effective and just enough. Much more would have been too much and it never became too cartoonish. Possessed Doris is formidable because of whatever's possessing her and the fact that others underestimate her.
The pacing of the film is excellent as it deliberately doles out its scares. Even when everything seems fine, I could feel an undercurrent of unease that something wasn't right. It was too perfect with Doris finding a bunch of money and communicating with people's dead loved ones to make her family successful again. Some of the plot developments came out of nowhere and there was no way I could have predicted them. The reason for Doris' possession was unexpected and pretty creepy. Even though the film is PG-13, I didn't feel like it was censored or parts were cut out to achieve the rating and appeal to wider audience. I was fully into the film and on the edge of my seat for most of the last half.
Overall, Oujia: Origin of Evil blows that first film, which was about as interesting as watching wallpaper dry, away with its creativity, unpredictable plot, and formidable performances. The only part that was lacking to me was the ending. It felt incomplete and disconnected from the rest of the film. Other than that, I was so impressed with this film that won me over when I already wrote it off before I even sat down in the theater which is no small feat.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins