Game over man

Ev­ery hor­ror cliche (well, al­most) is thrown into the mix in this by-the-num­bers se­quel

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

OUIJA: ORI­GIN OF EVIL Di­rected by Mike Flana­gan. Star­ring El­iz­a­beth Reaser, An­nalise Basso, Lulu Wil­son, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Alexis G Zall. Cert 16, gen re­lease, 99mins

Does it count as a spoiler if we tell you we were dis­ap­pointed when, dur­ing the in­creas­ingly chaotic last act of Ouija: Ori­gin of Boardgame, a shark or a clown, or a shark dressed as a clown failed to ma­te­ri­alise?

It’s not like they didn’t check ev­ery­thing else off the bumper list of hor­ror clichés. If you’re go­ing to in­clude ceil­ing walk­ing, milky-eyed pos­sessed kids, stretchy mouths, skulls, a Nazi doc­tor, a priest, evil imag­i­nary friend, a CG de­mon, au­to­matic writ­ing, and (not re­ally) a haunted kitchen sink, you might as well go for broke, right?

More’s the pity, too, as be­fore this pre­quel jumps the clown-shark, so to speak, it marks a vast im­prove­ment on the in­fer­nal-for-all-the-wrong-rea­sons 2014 orig­i­nal. For at least an hour, Ocu­lus di­rec­tor Mike Flana­gan ap­prox­i­mates the pa­tient, genre sto­ry­telling and at­mo­spher­ics of The Con­jur­ing se­quence.

It’s 1967 and hard-up, wid­owed mom Alice ( Twi­light’s El­iz­a­beth Reaser) ekes out a liv­ing by stag­ing fake séances. Her daugh­ters, Paulina (An­nalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wil­son), are in on the scam, but the fam­ily con­sole them­selves with the knowl­edge that they pro­vide peo­ple with clo­sure.

Faced with a stack of omi­nous-look­ing bills, Alice in­vests in a Ouija board to spruce up her act. But be­fore you can say “Has­bro’s Ouija Game: Now Avail­able From All Good Stores!”, Doris, the youngest girl, is chan­nelling from the other side. Ex­cept for re­als.

En­ter friendly lo­cal priest Father Tom ( ET’s Henry Thomas), who, in his con­cern for Doris, strikes up an ill-de­fined yet clearly in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ship with the girl’s mother. The rest is noise.

And all at­tempts to make the film look like it was made shortly be­fore The Ex­or­cist – the non-pe­riod pe­riod cloth­ing, the 1960s Uni­ver­sal logo – play as kitsch, not clever.

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