It’s time to watch my first traditional horror film in a while. That’s probably not the most accurate phrasing to use so let me switch it up a bit. When you think of horror films there are many kinds. 1. Realistic horrors where the threat is something that could happen in real life. These are typically the worst ones. The bottom of the barrel for horror so to speak. Then you have 2. Supernatural slasher horrors: These are the films where the opponent is some kind of ghoul, spirit, or phantasm who wants to destroy the main cast. That’s the kind that Ouija is a part of. These films usually get around a 2/10 score and are always pretty bad, but I consider them to embody the spirit of a true horror film the most. They have a set of cliches that are always followed to the letter and since you know all of the friends will ultimately end up dying you have to decide who the 1 extra character to be spared will be. The main heroine always lives, but she usually gets one ally to stay with her. The rest are red shirts from Star Trek. A similar kind of horror film is with aliens but it follows a different set of tropes so I’d count it as a slight variation. Typically there are more survivors and the films aren’t quite as graphic.
Lets ignore Alien and Predator There’s also Kaiju films but that’s a whole different debate as to if they even count as horror films so I’ll skip that for now. The next level of horror are the classic humanoid monster films like Dracula, The Mummy, etc. These can be fairly decent, but are a mixed bag. They have the potential to get a positive score, but are most likely 4-6/10 on average. Finally you have the horror/comedy hybrids which are the best kind of horror films. These have their share of jump scares but balance them out with witty one liners and the cast knows what’s up. These films include Abbott and Costello, Scooby Doo, House, etc. Those are the best ones, however you never feel like they are True Horror films which is why the supernatural ones still take that title. They may not be good but you’ll be entertained.
Time to talk about the actual film. Laine and Debbie used to play with the Ouija back when they were kids. They grew out of it though and went back to enjoying life. One day Debbie was super bored so she played an extra game and was quickly murdered by the monster inside of it. To the outside world it looked like she destroyed herself, but Laine wasn’t buying it. Debbie had been having a good time prior to that Ouija game so she decides to play the game with her friends to see if they can talk to Debbie and learn the truth. They learn it all right, but not from Debbie. The monster inside the board has decided to destroy everyone else who has played with the board game as well. As the bodies quickly begin piling up Laine has to figure out how to stop this ghoul once and for all. Her best bet is to ask the resident experts but is it already too late?
The film does a good job of avoiding the trope of the animal death in this film. That’s a good thing because no animals played on the board so that would have really just been for shock value. The film was pretty consistent here about the ghost only going after the players. This movie also isn’t quite as graphic as a lot of the other horror films so that’s a plus. It is still pretty intense though so keep that in mind but watch a trailer or something and you’ll probably be able to guess the rest. Most of the characters die in pretty brutal ways that may be fairly blood free but are still rather dark. Considering that most of them didn’t even want to play the game it’s quite tragic.
There’s always that one friend who is pulled into the game for a film like this one and in this case it’s Isabelle. She was probably the best of the main characters or at the very least she was a lot more upbeat. She was just looking forward to having a good time when Laine forced her to come with everyone to play the Ouija. She repeatedly expressed how she doesn’t want to do it, but since she is such a nice friend she goes along with it anyway. Ah well, that was game over. Then we have Trevor and Pete. Why would the film choose to have two actors who look so much alike? Considering that neither one of them is particularly likable it doesn’t help their case either. For instance, when Laine asks them to join her in a quest to stop the villains they both basically give her the same answer at different points. They may not be supposed to be similar in character, but I’d say that they are. They’re both very touchy and panic a lot. They never stood a chance here.
Then we’ve got Sarah who is probably the worst character of the bunch. She just likes to fool around a lot and doesn’t take anything seriously. Her way of coping with Debbie’s death is just to get even worse and is a thorn in Laine’s side for most of the movie. She doesn’t get to actually help until the very end of the film and it’s not enough to save her. I’m sure she would be a better character in a sequel thanks to developing from this so maybe she’ll be able to turn it around there. I’m pretty mixed about Laine. On one hand, she is pretty determined about finding out what happened to Debbie which is good. On the other hand her ideas are just pretty bad. Playing the Ouija board was really not a good idea and her family warned her about it. Getting everyone else in trouble the way she did was also a mistake. I suppose I don’t blame her too much for believing the words of the random stranger since the ghosts were acting misleading the whole time. It’s one of those annoying plot moments where you wonder why the bad spirits can do basically anything while the heroic ones are always sobbing and running around with no actual plan. They need to at least try thinking for themselves. On a side note, the old lady’s plan was actually quite sound though and did make for a pretty entertaining twist.
So, I won’t say that Laine was a bad character but she did make a lot of convenient decisions which certainly helped the villains. She’s still smarter than some of the other friends though. In one scene near the climax one of the guys gets a text from the main characters and runs to the back yard. Keep in mind that it’s the dead of night right now. He tells her to wait up, but she runs past a fence and slams the door. Not taking the hint, he opens the gate and chases after her. What happened to the guy’s intelligence? If that is really her wouldn’t she respond? Considering that he has already seen a lot of crazy stuff happen over the last 24 hours you would expect him to be a little more cautious here. I mean, it probably doesn’t matter since the ghosts are always super powerful so they would get their man anyway, but it still makes you shake your head.
Meanwhile Debbie’s a pretty great character. She makes all of the heroic choices when possible. Yeah, playing the game was a mistake, but at least she quickly realized it and distanced herself from everyone so they wouldn’t get hurt. It does bring up the tough questions of whether you should go to your friends in case they can help but if you “know” that it is all futile then keeping them out makes sense as well. She also has a lot more will power than the rest of the characters and is easily the highlight here.
As for the villain…well she’s fairly generic as can be. There are two main ghosts here. One of them is super weak and doesn’t know how to properly convey any kind of message and the other one does her best to finish everyone off. The villainous one naturally does a better job, but I wouldn’t call either one of the villains particularly memorable or cool. I’ll take the Grudge/Ring villains in a heartbeat. As for the rather dramatic ways they finish off their opponents, I suppose the villains like stretching things out. They could have easily ended the heroes in any number of ways based on those scenes. Also, shout out to the nanny for knowing everything that was happening and not lifting a finger to help. It’s pretty unexpected honestly. Not a good thing of course, but still a unique choice for a background character.
Overall, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this film. It’s a pretty dark adventure where the heroes never stand a chance which can be annoying. There is only so much you can do against a monster which can’t be touched and has super strength as well as tk abilities and basic reality warping. Still, it’s definitely a little classier than the average film in its genre so I’ll give it that. The imagery can be rather disturbing and gruesome, but not overly violent. A good example of this is the clouded over eyes. It’s not particularly pleasant, but I’ll take it over other eye tricks from horror titles. If horror films are your cup of tea then go for it. Otherwise I recommend paying a visit to the Scooby Doo collection.