A group of teenagers believe that a Ouija board is the cause of their friend’s death and decide to play it to discover the truth. However, they make contact with a sinister spirit and must rush to say ‘goodbye’ before it kills them, too.
I will start by saying that Ouija looks absolutely gorgeous on blu-ray. The picture is sharp and stunning, resembling an intricate painting. The film desires to be a ghost story that is driven by an atmosphere laced by dread and this undoubtedly bleeds through its beautiful exterior. There are literal golden edges to Ouija’s dark story in frequent images of fire and candlelight, making a slight but effective contrast. There is a strong opening sequence to Ouija and the decision to use slow, snake-like camera movements successfully suggests that there is something stalking in the shadows. This is coupled with an eerie soundtrack which enhances the fear and builds up some suitable suspense.
Putting all this positivity aside and delving deeper into Ouija, you can’t overlook the fact that this is a paint-by-numbers supernatural spook-fest. Easy on the eyes and lovely to look at, but charmless on the inside. The frequent slow-pace which sees the characters wander around in silence soon wears thin. What began as an effective spooky aura becomes boring and predictable, as you can see the frights coming a mile off. The film borrows from countless films which have borrowed from countless films before them. Watching someone walk carefully up the stairs muttering, “Hello? Anybody there?” No longer generates fear, but encourages an eye roll or a palm to the face. There’s your usual ventures in to basements, menaces in mirrors and a ghostly revenge theme at the film’s heart. Ouija doesn’t have any truly original ideas of its own, preferring to be an uninspiring, lazy imitation.
The opening sequence is technically adept, but there isn’t enough time dedicated to truly setting the scene. Ouija tries to prove it is has a more meaningful layer to its story as it attempts to encourage us to care for Laine and her friends. However, it is far too rushed and when they start to drop off in a Final Destination style, we aren’t emotionally attached enough to care. The subplot involving Laine’s sister is also not fully developed; we aren’t made aware of the reasons behind their conflict and as depicted in many supernatural horror films, the pair’s troubles are manifested in the haunting and overcoming the horrors will bring them together. Yawn. This is another example of Ouija’s lack of originality, making it far too predictable and unsurprising.
It’s a far from horrible film and it mostly does what it does well, but there’s plenty more that could have been explored here. With a Ouija board the possibilities should have been endless and it’s disappointing that the film wasn’t able to conjure a similar level of terror witnessed in other PG-13/12 films, like The Woman in Black. If you don’t go in with your expectations through the roof and expect the worst, maybe this will surprise you. It’s far from a complete failure and nowhere near a horrific masterpiece, but Ouija is an average, teen horror for those who are easily spooked.
What of the DVD Extras? There are a handful of special features, including ‘The Spirit Board: An Evolution”, “Adapting the Fear” and “Icon of the Unknown”. They are very similar in content, describing the origins of the Ouija board and how the film-makers incorporated ‘true’ stories in to the film. It would have been nice to see more of went on behind-the-scenes and some interviews with the cast and crew, but it’s quite interesting for those wishing to discover more about Ouija boards.