Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Ouija

by Adam Riske
Bored game.

I fell asleep for a solid 20 minutes during Ouija. It is that lifeless. Luckily, there was a screening that began 30 minutes after the one I was in, so I left one auditorium and went into another to see the 20 minutes I had missed. The inside of my eyelids were more entertaining. Ouija’s biggest problem is that it takes itself way too seriously. It’s as if Jumanji thought it was The Accused. There is no fun to be had in Ouija, not even the trashy horror kind.

My expectations going into Ouija were muted to begin with, but I was hoping to be surprised. I was game for Ouija, so to speak. This is the type of movie that no one expects to be good and it’s so disappointing that somehow the filmmakers have made a movie that rests underneath those already low expectations. This is the type of movie that could have been a calling card for a director to bring something interesting to the table. Ouija could have been edgy, over the top, energetic fun -- anything to show a director’s authorship -- but, alas, it is the opposite of those things.
The plot in brief: A group of friends, reeling from the death of one of their own, must confront the dark powers of the ancient spirit board that may have had something to do with their friend’s demise.

I can’t stress enough how lazy and stupid Ouija is. For example, there’s a sequence where a character is riding his bicycle in daylight and stops to walk it through a dark tunnel instead of riding it through. Ok, so that’s weird, but not unforgiveable, right? But then there’s a jump scare with a runner jogging through the tunnel (so it’s not that dark) and later the character with the bike magically has a flashlight to illuminate a message for him that has been scribed on the wall of the tunnel. There is no reason this character would just so happen to have a flashlight on him. It’s a full flashlight! It’s not like it’s just a keychain flashlight. Another bizarre sequence shows a character saying goodbye to her dad (before he goes away on a trip, thus leaving the teenagers unattended for the rest of the movie). They are outside and she is carrying an open umbrella but IT IS NOT RAINING! This sequence made no sense to me at all. I looked around and I didn’t see any rain anywhere, not hard rain or even faint rain. What the fuck are the filmmakers thinking? How could they have an oversight like this? Why did she have an umbrella in the first place?
I’m putting the blame for Ouija at the hands of its first-time director Stiles White. His resume is mostly in the special effects realm at the Stan Winston studio, working on such movies as Interview with the Vampire, The Sixth Sense and Congo. He also wrote the Nicolas Cage movie Knowing and that possession movie called The Possession from a couple years back. With this debut, he has not proven he can direct much other than a joyless and brain-dead but handsome looking production with some decent special effects. I’ll give Ouija that much credit.

The performances are a bit dull, but it’s not the fault of the performers. They are given nothing to play by this script nor any interesting character beats. They are operating at the discretion of the plot and nothing else. They are ciphers. Ouija feels quaint by comparison to today’s batch of horror movies. It feels similar to one of those Americanized versions of J-Horror that were in vogue at the time of The Ring and The Grudge, where it was a horror mystery (with random characters conveniently in mental institutions to be able to provide backstory) more than anything else. This one most closely resembles One Missed Call to me, but even that movie was better than Ouija. Ouija is not as good as those three aforementioned movies because it doesn’t share their suspense or ominous mood and macabre style and it’s also lethargically paced.
Ouija is one of the longest 90-minute movies I can remember encountering. It is without interest or entertainment. It’s a movie with no concern of living on past its opening weekend once it has bilked a few unsuspecting teenagers out of their $10. I don’t hate Ouija, but I do think it’s a horrible movie.


  1. Good review Adam - from the previews I thought as much. Oh well, at least us boardgame enthusiasts still have Ridley Scott's Monopoly movie to look forward to.

  2. "Bored game" is likely to be one of my favorite things I'll read or see all day. It's too bad this won't be, but I kind of expected as much. Great review, regardless, Adam.

  3. The worst thing that happened to me on the weekend was being 10 minutes late to Fury and being forced to see this junk instead. It was just such a bore, and there wasn't a single thing to like about it.

    Many horror movies are boring in a similar fashion, but at least have a decent thing or two to take away from of it. With Bay and McG being connected to this I knew it was going to be awful, but I would never advise anyone going and see this.

    Now that I think about it the only take away I had was the blonde chick was cute, and I did like how she met her end... but it was predictable and likewise to what you've already stated didn't make sense. After that happens I nearly fell asleep and didn’t even pay any attention to the pre-teens next to me talking the entire time. I wish I could have had as much fun as they probably had.

  4. How come you keep getting the turkeys Riske? Are they plotting against you or are you choosing your own?

    Cheers for saving my time again. What else can I say but I'll give it a pass

    1. I choose these on my own :-( BUT I have been seeing a lot of good movies recently. It's just they're not horror. More on that next week.

  5. Carrying a flashlight on a bike ride in a tunnel? This day and age don't you have the character use the light from the screen of their smartphone?

    At least it makes sense that they'd have that.

  6. Decent special effects? Which ones? Not being an asshole, I just don't remember any special effects that looked like they took much work.

    This was, indeed, a horrible piece of shit. I did however get three good laughs.
    -The aforementioned scene with the bicycle. It's just so weird, and the way he looks at that crayon for what feels like two minutes is just mind boggling.
    -When all the lights go out and a character says: "It's the lights. They all went out!"
    -When a CREEPY GHOST HAND!!! appears in a character's car and the lady next to me said "Fuck that, just take the bus."

    My friend and I made horror movie bingo cards and crossed off nearly every entry! All it was missing was a character going "Guys? Come on, this isn't funny anymore" and someone getting punished for having sex.