Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Escape From Tomorrow (2013)
Before I Wake (2016)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
DIRECTOR: Mike “I Can Do No Wrong” Flanagan. Well…I mean, the sun can’t shine on the same dog’s ass each day, so…
WHAT IS IT?: This is a follow-up to 2014’s Ouija, a horror film — which was a critical flop — but made enough cash for Blumhouse Productions to make a sequel. With Universal’s backing and writer/director Mike Flanagan on board (yep, him again), we got Ouija: Origin of Evil, a prequel to the original film.
THE PLOT: Despite using clever tricks in order to trick her clients into believing that she’s really a spiritual medium in the 1960’s, the recently-widowed Alice Zander has two daughters to take care of and isn’t able to make her mortgage payments. Attempting to help her mother, Lina, her oldest daughter, suggests that her mom purchase a Ouija Board after Paulina learns about the board’s reputation at contacting the dead.
At first, Alice applies magnets to the board’s planchette and uses magnets wrapped around her legs to move it around the board — but after their youngest daughter, Doris, actually claims to make contact with their late father (and later proves it), Alice utilizes Doris’s abilities to make her business more successful. The problem is that Doris HASN’T contacted their father. It’s something dark and evil and it’s got a hold of Doris and isn’t going to let go.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The critics gave the film high marks for being better than the original Ouija film. The AV Club remarked that the film was a massive improvement on the original, “from casting to story to atmosphere” while Odie Henderson at RogerEbert.com said that the film was “an overstuffed horror recipe” but that the elements it used (inspired by certain films) was “tasty”.
WHAT DID I THINK?: One of the best things about this film is that it’s a period piece. Set in the mid-1960’s, Flanagan attempts to make the film appear as though it was released in that timeframe, utilizing the 60’s era Universal Studios logo, a gorgeous retro title-card for the film and digitally-added film “defects” such as occasional signs of wear and tear on the film print and “cigarette burns” in the corner every so often (which signaled the changing of film reels in a movie theater) which is very clever.
Additionally, the colors are rich and vibrant, making everything you see pop. The film has life. Even when the film is encased in shadow with very little light, it’s beautiful to look at and makes everything atmospheric.
The performances are good with Elizabeth Reazer (who would go on to become a Flanagan regular) starring as Alice alongside Annalise Basso as Lina (of Flanagan’s Oculus) and Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation and Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House) as Doris.
The issue I have with the film is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection or chemistry between the three women and the sub-plot involving the Alice’s husband doesn’t have enough build-up for it to truly resonate when it matters and then it just devolves into a series of cheap jump scares and reliance on just a couple of make-up and visual effects which, while creepy, wears thin quickly.
Plus, it’s really hard to care about anything you’re seeing, since it’s designed to lead into the mediocre film which came before it.
Still, Ouija: Origin of Evil is gorgeous to look at and it’s far superior to its predecessor, so that’s something.