Horror Movie Marathon: Day 25 – Ouija: Origin of Evil

[SPOILER ALERT]     Ouija: Origin of Evil    [SPOILER ALERT]

ouija-board-floor
“In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home.” IMDB

It’s day 25 of the Horror Movie Marathon! Today, as a special treat, we are going to the theater for a really current movie!

Ouija: Origin of Evil is rated PG-13 and is available in theaters near you (maybe, I don’t actually know where you are). At the time of our viewing, it has the following online ratings:

IMDB 7.0/10

Metacritic 65/100

Rotten Tomatoes 81% critics, 70% audience

We’re two of six people in the theater at 12:40 on a Saturday afternoon. Because of the darkness, we’re forgoing the regular note-taking, so I hope we remember all the things we want to say. Afterward, we conduct a simultaneous interview/discussion via Google Docs.

*****

Mikey: I’m still enjoying the popcorn and root beer we got at this movie! That’s a unique bonus our previous movies haven’t offered.

Whoa, huge twist: while collecting IMDB info, I just discovered this is a prequel to a 2014 movie, Ouija. I’ve seen my share of movies with Ouija in the title (the hilarious The Ouija Experiment and its sequel for two), but sadly not that one.

Solee: Seeing a movie in the theater is definitely a different experience than watching it in our living room. I almost feel like it’s unfair to compare the two.

Mikey: The mega bass, high volume, and all-encompassing screen definitely help with the scares, and the mood. I think it explains a lot of the dichotomous reviews many horror movies get.

Solee: I remember seeing Blair Witch in the theaters and feeling like it was absolutely the most terrifying thing ever. I’m pretty sure if I’d seen it at home I would have thought it was stupid. I think the theater experience definitely improved this movie.

Mikey: This is why I keep saying we need a theater room! Oh, and I had the exact same experience with Blair Witch. I saw it when it came out in the theaters. Amazing and tense experience. I also reviewed it later when we watched it at home, and a lot of punch was gone, but I enjoyed it.

Solee: Well, Ouija gave me some definite jump scares. And they were the kind I like best when I know they’re coming and I’m all tensed up for them and that makes me jump even more. They did an excellent job of putting creepy people shaped shadows in the background.

Mikey: As soon as they started looking through the planchette, I knew there were going to be some nice jump scares to come. The last time they did that though, I wasn’t too impressed – the stuff that happened moved so fast it couldn’t even scare me. I had no idea what was going on.

Solee: Any time they throw the monster/demon/alien/whatever in my face to try to scare me it just annoys me. I like when it’s so subtle you miss it if you don’t know where to look. I think there’s a skill to putting something in the shadows and tricking the viewer into looking in the right spot without being obvious about it. That’s where horror directing and editing can be very impressive.

Mikey: There should be some kind of bible of horror movies, with all the different types of scares explained. I feel like I know a lot of directors who could benefit from the lessons. And there are a lot of different ways to scare. I liked when the girl opened her mouth a wee bit too big, like when she was sucking in the TV.

Solee: I liked that, too! It felt very “foreign film” to me. Like that’s something you would see in Asian horror. I am always creeped out by the crawling on the wall or hanging down from the ceiling shots, as well. It’s just so… unsettling.

Mikey: That’s not where people belong! But when she decided to run up the wall instead of climbing the stairs, that didn’t do it for me. Sometimes that stuff is a little too wire-work instead of creepy spider movement.

Solee: You are SO SENSITIVE to that stuff. You always say that about Superhero movies, too.

Mikey: I’m glad they did wirework instead of replacing her with a CGI Spiderman!

Solee: How do you feel about the “Oh, look, there’s a great big room behind this wall that we never knew about and that somehow is either still contained within our property or has also never been noticed by the owners of the house next door” trope? Why are so many basements so much bigger than they seem to be?

Mikey: I think that might be one of my favorite plot elements in movies. It just opens up a whole new world. But it bugs the crap out of me when, like in this movie, it’s so absurdly large that it defies all reason that they didn’t know it was there.  I wouldn’t notice a missing closet-sized space in my house unless I happened to be doing some measuring or something, but a room bigger than our living room? I think that thing extended onto the neighbors’ property.

Solee: When T.A.R.D.I.S. technology is used for evil…

Mikey: Oh, you’re probably sad the badguys were guys in black morphsuits instead of weeping angels!

Solee: Not sad at all. I will totally sleep tonight after watching dripping morphsuits climb into a little girl’s stretched out mouth. I would not sleep with Weeping Angels on the brain.

Mikey: You have such specific pathologies. I have to find a movie about evil statues.

Solee: I honestly don’t know how you can be so cavalier about them!

Mikey: They’re fictional, you know…

Solee: leans into mic WRONG.

Mikey: You’re such a nasty woman.

Solee: Yep. But not as nasty as the sound of someone’s neck breaking. Ugh. That’s totally another one of my pathologies. I HATE that.

Mikey: Yes it is! It doesn’t bother me, but then cracking knuckles bother you almost as much. I just don’t like eye stuff, which this movie was gloriously free of. Well, except the slingshot, but that was off screen.

Solee: That was one of several things that happened in this movie which would have caused some SERIOUS repercussions in real life that were completely ignored in the movie. Understandably so, but I sometimes get caught up on those things.

Mikey: Well, you know I like to impose real-life logistics on horror movies! I think this movie did glide along (it was pretty fast-moving, not one of those bleak, slow, grey movies), skipping right over a lot of realities just to get the story told.

Solee: Can’t say I disapprove. Oddly, I didn’t disapprove of the style of the movie either. Usually I hate when things are set in the 70’s because I think that era was inherently fugly. The clothes the girls and their mom wore looked true to the era, but also like something I’d pick up at a funky thrift store and wear today. Except the nightgowns. Those were SO frilly.

Mikey: Speaking of clothes, as you kept pointing out during the movie, it was kind of a funny choice that the main character’s Catholic schoolgirl skirt was a good 3 inches shorter than every other girl at her school. I was going to point out what a girl-power movie this was, but that undermines it a bit.

Solee: That skirt! Maybe they just skipped over the many times a day she got her knuckles rapped by nuns. Or maybe they were cutting her some slack because her dad had died recently.

Mikey: It’s logistics I have a problem with again: this was a school uniform, so clearly at some point she (or her mother?) actually went in and re-cut the skirt to be shorter! Maybe she just rolled up the top.

Solee: Obviously, you never went to Catholic school. You just roll it at the top! Every good Catholic girl knows that. (I am not sure how I learned that… I am neither Catholic, nor a good girl.)

Mikey: I would catch on fire if I did.

Solee: Given the movies we’ve watched this month, I have to tell you that statement makes me a tad nervous. Should I have a vial of Holy Water on hand, just in case?

Mikey: I guess, if you want to scald me! Rude.

Solee: Speaking of the occult, have you ever played with a Ouija board?

Mikey: Oh wow, we should’ve started with that discussion! Yes, I have!  We owned one, and I remember one memorable time playing with it: we were driving cross country in our van, so the rumbly nature of it made the spirits particularly talkative.

Solee: Creepy. Did you learn anything intersting?

Mikey: No, because even at the time, whatever age I was, I 100% understood it was a pram full of bugbears.

Solee: WHERE DO YOU GET THESE SAYINGS???

Mikey: The spirits whisper them into my ears! Did you have a Ouija board?

Solee: I think someone maybe brought one to a sleepover when I was a pre-teen. I have never been a believer of that kind of stuff, though, so I thought it was all nonsense. And even when I was a pre-teen, the shrieks of pre-teen girls pretending to be terrified annoyed the hell out of me. I wish it had been when I was just a tad older. I could have had some REAL fun making that board talk. insert evil laughter

Mikey: Don’t mess with forces you don’t understand!

So I did want to bring up the initial premise of the movie. I’ve seen it before, and it’s one I enjoy: the family worked together to perform fake seances (which of course led to them being shocked to find real ghosts later). I don’t know, that ‘inside view’ of the scammer is always appealing to me.

Solee: Me, too. That’s why we’re such fans of Leverage!

Mikey: Yes, it’s always time for a heist!

Solee: I think there’s a level of realism when they show the seances being a total scam in the beginning. Gives me a place to connect with the story.

Mikey: On the opposite end of the movie, and the opposite end of the appreciation scale, I feel like the denouement of this movie was… illogical, random, and incomprehensible. I’m still not sure what all happened after they finished ‘beating’ the ghosts and we moved over to the asylum, but I’m fairly sure that it didn’t all make sense together.

Solee: The ghosts were clearly not beaten. But I thought it was pretty firmly established (in the basement) that the younger sister had died and been reunited with her father. Yet, there she is (in the asylum) crawling around on the ceiling after her sister summons her.

Mikey: And killing a doctor (we assume)! Yet we don’t worry about that and just skip forward 20 or 30 years (in the Funny Part After The Credits). To… the dead sister having a child so apparently she was alive all along? Or some other sister we didn’t know about did.

Solee: at least 40 years… and yeah… the Funny Part After the Credits didn’t make any sense at all. Unless it wasn’t really a niece at all, but was actually her ghost-demon-sister.

Mikey: That makes so much more sense! Every movie should come with you on the side as the movie’s Anger Translator. Except more like a Story Translator.

Solee: Lucky for you, all of your movies do!

Mikey: Not during previous years of Halloween reviews, so this has been a very enjoyable year!

Solee: Just another way I’ve wormed my way into your life so you can’t live without me.

Mikey: True dat. So in this movie, the Ouija board has 3 rules: ‘Don’t play alone’, ‘don’t play in a graveyard’, and ‘always say Goodbye’. It’s interesting because in The Ouija Experiment, the plot (such as it was) also hinged on a set of Ouija rules, but they were slightly different. I think they were ‘never ask them how they died’, ‘always say goodbye’, and… ah, I forgot the last one. I highly recommend that movie – it is hilarious.

By the way, in this movie they broke every rule repeatedly, and they never once said goodbye. I mean, at least do it right once!

Solee: Upon doing some quick research, it appears that the original “rules” were much less interesting: http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/directio.html

Mikey: And upon my quick research, the missing rule was ‘Never ask them how you will die’. Oh, that movie is so funny… “Based on true events” But yeah, those real rules are pretty dull.

Solee: Sorry… didn’t mean to distract from your point. They were pretty careless with this game, even after they knew it was really connecting them with the “other side”. Kinda makes me wonder how the story would have gone differently if they’d been more respectful of the power of the Ouija.

Mikey: That’s no fun at all. It’s like a movie where people follow the rules of gun safety so nobody gets shot.

Solee: Oh, I know. Wouldn’t make a good movie… just makes for interesting thinking. Well, did you have more to say or is it time to rate?

Mikey: Unfortunately, in a dark theater, I couldn’t take any notes, so I have had to rely entirely on my brainpower up to this point. I think my brain is all kaput. You have to rate first this time!

Solee: Ok. So, I’m trying not to let the big-screen, big-sound experience influence my score. I liked the overall vibe of the movie. I thought the acting was believable and the sets/costumes were great. Plot-wise, it got a little shaky in places and it wasn’t super original (ex-Nazi continuing his horribleness in suburban America… that’s been done), but it wasn’t awful to watch. And I liked the special effects. It’s one of the few movies to actually make me jump. I guess… 4 out of 5? 4.5? No… 4. I think that extra .5 is theater boost.

Mikey: This was one of the more well-built productions we’ve seen this month (not a surprise, since ⅔ of them were never released in theaters at all). The acting was plenty good, all the sets and effects expensive and thus effective. It also moved at a good pace for what it was trying to do, and was interesting. But no mind-melting twists, no deep thoughts underneath. Basically, a technical success with no special sauce poured on top. I consider that to be somewhere around 3.5 or 4… Hmm. Let’s make it different from yours: 3.5.

Solee: Fair enough. Tomorrow we return to the small screen, watching Beacon 77 in our living room, right?

Mikey: The movie also known as The 7th Dimension (which is a few extra dimensions, shouldn’t we learn about numbers 5 and 6 first?). Let’s hope it’s fun!

Solee: Maybe they figured those were covered with those Hypercube movies?

Mikey: Ooh, a Cube movie would be fun.

*If you have comments to leave specifically for Mikey, you can see this same interview/discussion posted here, on his website.

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