Ouija

I think I’m going to need someone to explain this one to me. A Ouija board is a board game made by Hasbro which allows you to “contact the dead,” even if, you know, that’s not really a thing you can do. So, now there’s a movie, based on the toy, that shows the toy opening up a portal to allow a spirit into our world which brutally murders the participants in the game. Boy, that sure does sound like good marketing. I guess maybe there could be an inherent thrill in something like that … but I don’t buy it.

Anyway, Ouija is horror movie about a Ouija board that allows a ghost/spirit/demon/something into the human world and kills the people who played the board game, because it’s bored. Or angry. Or something else. It’s explained in the movie but I had already very much lost interest. The point is, it’s evil, our teenage protagonists are good, and they’re the only ones who can stop it, because of reasons. You’ve seen this type of movie before. The teenagers are cannon fodder, the “main” one is really the only one who might be able to save the day, and it’s all very boring and uneventful.

Oh, right, the plot also has the characters trying to figure out why one of their friends killed herself. Because she did that, despite seemingly mostly normal. It must’ve been the ghost/spirit/demon! Our “main” is Laine (Olivia Cooke), as she was the deceased’s best friend. There are four or five others who also have names but I don’t remember them and they don’t matter. Their personalities are all identical and they’re mostly her to be picked off by the enemy, anyway.

The plot would be fine if the film was packed with scares, but Ouija is probably one of the tamest and least scary horror movies I’ve ever been subjected to. It has a couple of jump scares — none of which achieve the desired effect — but has no clue what to do when it comes to building atmosphere, ramping up tension and suspense, or basically anything that has to do with being a good horror movie. A real-life guinea pig is scarier, if only because it’ll run away from you or try to bite you. Ouija certainly won’t bite, nor will it make you feel the need to run away.

Ouija only runs for 89 minutes but feels far longer. Here’s just a taste at the snail-like pacing with which it presents itself: It takes over 30 minutes for our group of teens to actually sit down and use the Ouija board. What happens during that time? Some moping, some pointless dialogue, and not a single moment that could even remotely be misconstrued as “scary.” That’s a third of the running time, folks.

I can’t think of a single good moment in Ouija. Not one. Maybe the credits? Do they count? How many of you actually sit through the entire credits when watching a movie? I’d guess less than 5%. Maybe not even that high, unless of course it’s a Marvel movie, at which point you’ll turn to your friend or your cellphone until the post-credits scene shows up. Well, Ouija doesn’t have one of those, although it does end in a way that leaves it open for a sequel. If Hollywood has any shame, that will never come to pass.

The acting is terrible, too, although I’m guessing that had more to do with the script and direction than the talent involved. The dialogue they’ve been given is laughably bad, and when your characters have no defining personality traits, it’s kind of hard for the actors to get invested in them, especially since most of them exist to be target practice for the villain anyway. It’s just all bad, read. There’s nothing good about Ouija.

Ouija is a terrible horror movie. It doesn’t do a single thing right, is a downright bore for most of its running time, and is also an advertisement for a Hasbro board game, even if it does confusingly represent the board as something that might eventually get you killed. Its filmmakers apparently have no concept of what makes a horror movie scary, as there’s no attempt to generate an atmosphere or suspense, and even the few jump scares fail to startle, much less frighten. The actors are bad, the dialogue is awful, and there isn’t a single reason to watch this horrible movie.

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