Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Well, at least 'Ouija: Origin Of Evil' was better than the first one

I, like everyone I've ever met who has actually watched the first Ouija movie, was not a fan. It was one of the weakest attempts by Blumhouse, a company that has made its name off of cheap popcorn horror movies, and that's not even taking into consideration the blatant product placement featured throughout. So when I saw of a sequel, "skeptical" certainly wouldn't have been the last word to come to mind when hearing about it. And then the trailers came out, and I still wasn't convinced it would be good. But then I watched the movie. And I'm still not convinced.

Unlike the first movie, this one takes time to build atmosphere with its classic setting and relative attention to detail costume and set-wise, and in doing so becomes far more engrossing within the first 10 minutes than the entire first movie was at any point whatsoever. It has an incredible build-up in the first and second acts that deserve as much praise as virtually any other horror movie this year, but this sadly is where the praise must stop. The big moments in a horror film can make or break the entire project, and while earlier uses of gaping-mouth white-eyed girl faces can be forgiven (and at times were actually effectively shocking), by the final scenes I was left wishing they had thought things out a little more and not allowed this to be the scare tactic for the entire movie -- that is until she starts running on walls and leaping across the room. It would have been much more creepy had it been done with a little more restraint, as this essentially wound up turning the horror scenes into action scenes.

The girl who plays the possessee is well-cast, adding the necessary innocent cuteness to the role, but has enough skill to make her darker moments come across as far more chilling than they could have been. Too many horrors have been spoiled by poor child casting, and this girl never breaks the movie. The rest of the cast are fine enough, but this really isn't a performance piece. We all know why we're here watching this movie, and the acting isn't that reason. The writing and story itself is also almost incidental, introducing subplots and characters that never serve more purpose than to be wing-men for another jump-scare. Sometimes the scares work (particularly early on), but by the end you'll probably just wish they had let there be more of an emphasis on the story.

Ultimately, this movie seems to be getting a lot of love, and it's not hard to see why. I can't help but to feel the reduced expectations factored into the praise here, but it was still above average horror fare. But in the end, the jump-scares and overused cliches outweigh much of the good that can be found in this movie. The scare tactics are cheap and much in the vein of just popping out around a corner and screaming in your face as opposed to really getting under your skin. It provides adequate thrills, but this is nothing exceptional or groundbreaking. You'll sleep just fine after watching this one.

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