I’ve written multiple horror novels, and I have an interest in things that go bump in the night.
Nevertheless, most horror movies don’t scare me.
This is because at the end of the day, a horror movie is the product of someone’s imagination. As a writer myself, I can’t completely set that aside. I can only suspend my disbelief so far. I might find a horror movie interesting, or suspenseful. But rare is the horror film that makes me look over the edge of my bed at night, wondering if something might be there.
But I found Ouija: Origin of Evil to be genuinely creepy.
The movie opens in Southern California in 1967, where a youngish widow and her two daughters (one in high school, the other about six or seven) are making ends meet with an unusual side business: Posing as psychics, they are performing fake séances.
But they are also concerned, apparently, with giving grieving people closure and comfort. So while they’re scam artists, their intentions aren’t entirely bad. And they are in difficult straits, a widow and two daughters in late 1960s America.
Then the older daughter gets a ouija board, which the mother incorporates into the act. But this backfires; the ouija board summons an inhuman entity that eventually possesses the younger of the two girls.
This movie meets two prerequisites for good horror: likable characters, and a slow build of the horror elements. The main characters in this film are engaging, but flawed enough to seem like real people. What happens to them seems real, too.
The horror plot of Ouija: Origin of Evil requires a major suspension of disbelief, so the younger girl’s demonic possession starts out gradually. In one of the early scenes, she says something incredibly dark and violent in a deadpan tone, frightening the teenage suitor of her older sister. There are no levitating bodies or spinning heads here; but it is nevertheless a very powerful scene, with hints of what is to come.
The horror soon becomes more overt, of course.
This is not a perfect movie. Near the climax of the film, there are a few over-the-top action sequences that clash with the quiet, plausibe build of the supernatural elements up to that point. (Note to horror writers and filmmakers: A horror tale is not a Vin Diesel movie or a Clive Cussler novel.)
There are also some plot holes, which you’ll certainly catch if you pay attention.
Nevertheless, this is some pretty good—and pretty scary—storytelling for a film of 99 minutes. I would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.