Spirits Fail to Guide “Ouija”
by Gloria Han
Class of 2016
Undoubtedly, Halloween is the best time of year to release movies of the horror genre. The holiday itself has a connotation of spooks and scares, all of which can be found in an hour and a half of screen time. If created successfully, a scary movie can thrill audiences and keep their hearts racing throughout. Truly terror-inducing films can leave movie-goers sleepless for several nights, at least for those less callous to its effects. However, if made ineffectively, a scary movie is instead quite ridiculous, sometimes to the point that it becomes comical. This leads me to talk about my main subject, the movie “Ouija”, which hit theaters on October 24 and is currently at the top of the box office.
“Ouija” tells the story of high school teenage girl, Laine, and her friends, who take it upon themselves to find out the mystery behind their friend, Debbie’s, suicide. After clues lead Laine to believe that her death was connected to the use of a Ouija board, Laine holds a séance with her friends. Their first attempts lead them to assume that they are communicating with Debbie. However, upon second attempt, they find that their presumptions were incorrect, and everything goes downhill from there.
It is difficult to pinpoint all the things wrong with the film – there just seems to be so many. The screenplay consists of very clichéd dialogue, and the characters honestly don’t make you sympathize with them. It wasn’t really the fault of the actors – they did the best they could. The cast by the way, includes Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of an American Teenager), Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters, Big Love), and Bianca A. Santos (The Fosters). A small supporting role is also played by Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious), who is well known for her appearances in horror movies. There was just nothing that the cast could do to make up for the flaws of the film.
First of all, the film doesn’t exhibit many scares. Other than the typical pop-outs and flashes, the scares don’t amount to very much. Based on the reactions of the large number of young kids sitting in the audience, I wasn’t the only one that was unamused.
Another problem was the film’s very underdeveloped and disappointing back story. A good scary movie always needs an intriguing and creepy background story to contribute to the mystery and terror of the main characters’ current situation. In terms of a standard film, “Ouija” fails as well. The character development throughout is very limited, and almost nonexistent. One would think that the death of a friend would dramatically affect a person’s life, but there is very little change in Laine (Olivia Cooke) from beginning to end, or any other character for that matter.
But, if you’re just looking for a silly scary movie to watch with your friends and laugh about in the end, “Ouija” may be the movie for you.
Ouija is rated PG-13 for violence and horror.