Ouija: Origin of Evil

I never would have paid any attention to this if it hadn’t been released to unexpectedly good reviews. And it is half a good movie, a third a really weird movie, and a third totally banal cash-in [it’s a Hasbro movie, along with Battleship, Transformers and GI Joe, the arithmetic of which should give you a clue to how much movie you’re getting for your dollar here.

Mom’s a widow with two daughters, Lina and Doris, all still reeling from dad’s death. For some reason, this is happening in 1967, although the period and hairstyles are fun. This movie definitely passes the Bechdel test, not that anyone cares about movies like this. Anyway, before you know it, 9yo Doris is claiming to be in contact with dad, and mom believes it, leaving only Lina to be skeptical. They’re also getting friendly with the local priest, played by Henry Thomas of ET fame! This is all the good part of the movie, when you’ll be surprised how much character material you’re getting, and what interesting scenes they’re making of it, like Lina having to confront mom that she’s falling for Doris’ cheap psychic tricks [mom is a fraud psychic herself] because she wants to believe. Also, the two kid actresses are absolutely terrific.

So just as you’ve finally been won over by how good it is, it turns to shit. But at least it stays fairly weird while that’s going on. And surprisingly dark. You’re like “They’re not really going to kill that one, are they? And they’re really, REALLY not going to kill this one… are they?” And they do. And there are some cuckoo moments [reanimated hung guy was a favorite], and it gets so wacky you really don’t know what you’ll see next. Unfortunately, it also gradually gets less good, and more random and patched-together, finally giving in to the need to have something jumping out and screaming, and devolving into senselessness, but until then you’ll get a much better movie than you expect. If writer/director didn’t have to deliver something generic that would make money, who knows what he might have done.

Anyway, maybe not worth theater money, but on cable or streaming, shit…

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