The Zander family run a well meaning but emotionally manipulative business where they pretended to contact recently departed loved ones by staging a show (blowing out candles, doors creaking open, the usual). However, when Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) buys an Ouija board it turns out that you can contact the spiritual world as her youngest daughter, Doris (Lulu Wilson), is able to contact the dead. The family use the board to try to contact the father, but something else attaches itself to Doris. When events starting take a more serious turn, they enlist the help of Father Tom (E.T’s Henry Thomas).
One of most often asked questions on movie forums is “What sequel is better than the original?”. People usually rattle off the most common answers, Terminator 2, Aliens, Evil Dead 2, and The Godfather 2. Ouija: Origin of Evil is likely going to be an answer that will pop up regular occasions because there is a chasm of difference in quality between Mike Flanagan’s effective remake and the utterly dismal previous film.
Mike Flamgan’s rising stock in the film industry led him into directing a film with a slightly larger budget than he had worked with previously (Oculus’ budget was $5,000,000, his other films’ budgets didn’t even break $100,000). Ouija: Origin of Evil is such a vast improvement over the original film that it’s quite incredible that they are even part of the same franchise. With a talented director at the helm the film is hauntingly creepy and one that uses the standard cliches and tropes of the genre with a surprising level of effectiveness, there are even a few genuine surprise scares in the film that are done with creativity.
The film takes its time getting into the main scares, allowing the characters to develop and the audience to become engaged with these characters, emphasizing with them for their loss (their father died a few years previously). The film’s slow, creepy build up and devotion to building empathy for the characters ensures that the final act, which isn’t quite as good as the first two acts, doesn’t fully go off the rails as we do care about the characters. It’s a shame that the film does lose it’s way a little in the final third, but the sensitive performances from the cast, especially the two youngest players, (Elizabeth Reaser is also impressive) and the slow, subtle and effective build up overcomes any iffy patches in the final third.
Flanagan’s attention to detail is impressive to say the least, the old fashioned title card and cigarette burns adds to the authenticity of the movie’s setting which is detailed excellently with 1960s decor. Origin of Evil is a massive improvement over the 2014 original, but pretty much anything would have been an improvement.