Director: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson
Release Date: January 17, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
It was never just a game. Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board, Ouija: Origin of Evil tells a terrifying new tale in 1967 Los Angeles. A widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
Serving as a prequel to the 2014 film; ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ takes viewers back to 1967 where the terror began. When a widowed mother and her two daughters making a living as a physic utilizing various gimmicks and no real connection decides to purchase a Ouija board to further assist in their business, things soon take an interesting turn when the youngest daughter begins to display some seemingly real psychic abilities. Quickly taking advantage of this supposed gift in order to further their business, once the young girl begins showing unmistakable signs of being affected by her newfound ability, the family begins to discover that nothing is quite as it seemed and a far more terrifying and sinister presence may be involved, tied to events occurring years ago. As her older sister becomes increasingly concerned for her well being, she starts to investigate the matter further, but the truth she approaches just might be worse than anything she could have imagined.
Directed by talented filmmaker Mike Flanagan (Hush, Absentia) who also edited as well as co-wrote the screenplay along with Jeff Howard (Oculus, Before I Wake), Flanagan does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ capturing the details of the 1960’s placement with true beauty, and vastly improving upon the first entry in nearly every aspect. The film also owes its share of credit to the minimal cast that assists in keeping this emotional and surprisingly human horror flick always on mark including Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight, TV’s The Good Wife), Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic, TV’s The Red Road), Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Gangs Of New York), Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us From Evil, TV’s The Millers), and a few more who all deliver highly capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is the perfect example of a follow-up to a painfully mediocre horror film that manages to fix nearly every little issue that its predecessor suffered, completely switching the tables and delivering a truly eerie, gorgeous and just overall impressive film that’s superior to the first ‘Ouija’ movie in almost every possible way. The film serves as a prequel and takes us back to the late 1960’s where we join the family whose unknowing invitation (so to speak) initiated the supernatural terror. Gorgeously guided by director Mike Flanagan and further complimented by solid performances from nearly the entire cast, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ comes together into a surprisingly competent, eerie and unique prequel. It almost resembles an emotional family drama as much as it does a supernatural horror film at times, occasionally even more so; a factor which does wonders in its favor by allowing us to become intimately familiar with the family and somewhat sympathetic to their struggles which subsequently allows for a notable escalation in the tension thanks to the more personalized connection we feel with the characters. Unnerving, powerful, and beautifully filmed; it also captures the late 1960’s era in which it occurs perfectly. ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is a far superior film to the original (while still managing to seamlessly connect the dots between the two) and a pretty fantastic horror film as a whole that genre fans in particular will want to make a point of checking out, even if you weren’t a fan of the first one.
Overall, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ is one incredibly welcome surprise and a creepy, well constructed horror movie altogether, not to mention immensely superior to the franchise’s first entry in nearly every conceivable way. Taking viewers back to the year 1967 also allows for another high note courtesy of its beautiful recreation of that time. ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ easily earns one of my highest recommendations, particularly for the fellow horror fans out there who are likely to have a great deal of fun with this gorgeous, capably guided and surprisingly well acted follow-up to the relatively unimpressive ‘Ouija’; managing to outdo the original at every turn and delivering a truly impressive horror film that genre fans won’t dare to miss out on. It’s more than worthy of a rental for anyone understandably hesitant to cough up the cash for a blind purchase of the Blu-ray release.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty wonderful as a whole and provides a consistently sharp and detailed presentation that perfectly captures the bright colors often on prominent display and suffers no notable faults throughout. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a top notch high definition video presentation from Universal that should easily please the fans and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack delivers a crisp, clean and fairly aggressive audio presentation from start to finish. It frequently utilizes all five available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the wonderful score, in addition to sending plenty of creepy, and sudden auditory effects such as creaks, groans and feet pattering throughout the various speakers, along with more, yet never causing any dialogue which may happen to be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a fantastic 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that compliments the film’s tension and creepiness splendidly.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ includes a few solid extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer/Editor Mike Flanagan’, in addition to a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 17 minutes in length altogether). We are also treated to a few behind the scenes Featurettes that take a look at bringing the film to life and include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘The Making of Ouija: Origin of Evil’ (running approximately 9 minutes), ‘Home Is Where the Horror Is’ (approximately 5 minutes), and ‘The Girl Behind Doris’ (4 minutes).