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