Ouija: Origin of Evil follows a widow and her two girls who try to retain the house of their late father by performing seances. When the eldest daughter introduces the idea of a Ouija board, the youngest daughter's latent abilities to communicate with the dead emerge, and she begins to inadvertently summon supernatural forces both good and pure evil.
Ouija: Origin of Evil Review
I finally got around to seeing this Ouija sequel that famously far-outperformed the original because of the now-popular director Mike Flanagan. So, this review is more of a personal reflection of Flanagan's work and how Ouija: OoE compares.
Flanagan became a household name with the Netflix original series Haunting of Hill House, but in the horror community, Flanagan was already praised for his films Oculus, Hush, and one of the greatest micro-budget (less than $100,000) horror movies of all time in Absentia.
Absentia was my first experience with Flanagan, and it was instantly added to my short list of on-the-spot recommendations. It wasn't perfect, especially in the acting department, but at the budget and with his effective style, it was the epitome for what is possible with a modest budget.
Oculus was a unique horror film that had an original story with a stylized approach at times. The time-skipping and the antagonistic object of the mirror was very interesting and powerfully executed.
The slasher genre isn't at the top of the list of subgenres that get me excited by the mention of it, but Hush took a fun twist on the mold by changing not the villain's attributes, but the victim. Our protagonist is deaf. And Flanagan effectively uses this concept to deliver an intense and entertaining game of cat and mouse that bends the rules of the subgenre.
So then he seems to randomly take on a mainstream horror sequel in which the first film was widely panned. Despite the weird origins of the film itself, Flanagan manages to take a sequel that shouldn't have even existed to begin with and delivers some great scares through a decent story. This film does seem to lack Flanagan's personality somewhat, as it feels more like James Wan ghost-directing at times rather than a Flanagan original. But one could look at that as the breadth of Flanagan's talent, as I would argue that he is quite malleable in his directing because not one of his films is exactly like another, down to the camera work, amount of scares, and its pacing.
Flanagan made his name with the peripheral horror he created in Haunting of Hill House. Considered by many even in the committed horror community as his best work, it was lauded for its subtle visuals of ghostly entities to put you at ease, combined with powerful character development and impeccably executed scares. Sadly, the second season was a bland, drab interpretation of the Turning of the Screw (which is in and of itself a dry and uneventful "horror" novella), and the apparitions felt more like a ghost version of Where's Waldo.
So perhaps his spectrum of films like Absentia, Doctor Sleep, Oculus, Hush and Ouija: OoE tells us that Flanagan is at his best when he's executing his natural talent and not trying to reinvigorate magic he's already succeeded on. Because Flanagan has proven that when given original source material, he can keep the characters fresh and the scares frightening.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 7/10 Film Quality: 6/10