Around Halloween each year, there is a horror movie released to set the spooky mood and put audiences in the Halloween spirit. This season, that movie is “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” Typical, right? Yet another horror film about people using a wooden board to contact the dead. Originally as a joke but the characters start freaking out once strange, scary things start to happen to them. But this particular film has a different plot.
Set in the late 1960’s the audience is introduced to a family of three, a widowed mother and her two daughters. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) works from her home as a fortune teller/medium, helping people get closure from loved ones they have lost. With the help of her two daughters Lena (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) she is able to give people the closure they so desperately need.
Her daughters have specific jobs and act as the “spirits” that come forward, basically just scamming their customers. Alice decided a Ouija board would add more flare to their performance.
Thinking she’d be able to get in touch with her late father who was killed by a drunk driver, nine-year-old Doris decided to play with the Ouija board, asking questions and getting the answers she wanted from her “father.” Doris went back to the board night after night to talk. After constantly hearing voices late at night and noticing a change in Doris’ behavior Lena decided bring it up with her mother.
With the usual scare tactics horror films have to offer, the whispering in the house at night, something or someone pulling at the bottom of the covers, crawling upstairs, creepy laughter of a child in the distance, this film also offers a different, more developed story line.
Director Mike Flanagan, known for his other horror/thriller films such as “Oculus” and “Hush,” adds a different approach to a rather played out story idea. Not sticking with the traditional outlook on the hundreds of years old board game, Flanagan added background and gave the spirits their own character. Throwing in a few plot twists here and there, this film was not entirely like the typical Ouija board films.
Reaser, known mostly for her role in the “Twilight” Saga, delivers a performance that audiences have not really seen from her. Audiences are familiar with her motherly attitude from when she played Esme but were blindsided by the fear she so greatly portrays in this film. As for Basso, this isn’t her first rodeo, horror films seem to be her forte. Playing a role in another one of Flanagan’s films “Oculus,” the audience is not entirely surprised by her excellent performance. She has the ability to show the audience the true meaning of fear as she watches strange things happen to her sister.
This film shows the audience that not every horror movie has the same plot and is capable of changing up an overused story idea. Providing the audience with a movie perfectly suitable for the Halloween season with scenes that’ll make you jump, gasp and maybe even curse under your breath a little. It may not compare to the greatness of any of the original horror films such as “The Exorcist,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Shining,” but it gives a much needed change to the storyline of one of the most used horror film ideas ever.