Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan; Jeff Howard
Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas; Parker Mack.
Feeling weary after a heavy day, I wondered if it was the right night to watch Ouija: Origin of Evil. But, what the hey, I thought I’d perk up once I got there, then I’d get into it… The start would get me there… Or maybe, by the end… I guess you can see where this is going – there was no perking up!
Sure, Doris Zander (Lulu Wilson), the possessed little girl, was scary; all freaky-eyed and way too enthusiastic about all things occult. There just wasn’t enough of a hook.
I liked the 60s style of the clothes and the house of the Zander family, the style somehow adding an authentic flavour. The characters were all believable and the story was decent. And that’s what the film was, decent. There was no zing for me. The story felt like a formula which reminded me of other films but without the punch because I could see what was coming:
A story of a fortune teller selling closure to people who’ve lost someone. The fact that Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser), the widowed mother of 2 girls, was a sham doesn’t matter. It’s all about looking after her daughters, Doris (Lulu Wilson) and Lina (Annalise Basso) while feeling like she’s helping others, even though she’s making money out of grief.
It didn’t ring true to me, the idea of Alice sending her kids to a Catholic school and the priest, Father Tom, being ever so obliging to someone working in the occult. The religious aspect didn’t quite fit.
Playing with a Ouija board isn’t a new horror narrative, and Origin of Evil had a fresh feel; the look of the film itself depicting the ‘cigarette burn’ in the corner of the picture on screen, my thinking, on purpose and timely, making the 60s setting more authentic. And the transformation of the little girl, Doris, was sophisticated in the reveal of possession.
But I felt there was a holding back. Not that I want gore or to be disgusted. I prefer a suspenseful horror. I just wasn’t shocked or surprised.
I’m always looking for that ultimate horror thriller that gets past the seeing, past the eyeball and burrows its way into the brain, to the place of imagination, and Origin of Evil didn’t do that for me.
There was a quality of execution and I believed all the characters, but the scare factor that gets under the skin just wasn’t there.