ouija-board

Overview: After the death of a teenage girl, close friends investigate with the aid of a Ouija board. Universal Pictures, 2014, Rated PG-13, 89 Minutes.

Horror for the Coward: I will admit this upfront, I find no pleasure in watching horror films. The last time I was in a theater to have the bejeezus scared out of me during Halloween was more than ten years ago. That being said, this time around when the ticket gal said, “Wow. You guys are brave,” upon my purchasing Ouija tickets, I could not keep the slight panic from traveling to my core.

Scare Tactics: So this should have been an easy win for director, Stiles White, to scare me to the point of week-long restlessness. However, his tactic was defined by predictability. Here’s a list of behavior exhibited by characters that forewarns of something bad about to happen to them:

  • Breaking the rules…
  • Going to the one place he/she should not go..
  • Separating from the crowd…
  • Listening to the wrong advice…
  • Going along with the one person who, despite all the terrifying happenings, continues to push forward…
  • And messing with the forces from the other side!

Of course, there are those jumpy scenes where you think it’s the malevolent spirit when really it’s just one of the friends. Of course, there is that little twist in which the movie isn’t officially over. And of course, there is no closure. Take all of the above, mix well, and you have the ingredients for an ineffective cookie-cutter horror movie.

Yes. No. Goodbye.  Generally, one of the challenges for any horror movie  is showcasing enough believability to earn a connection with the audience.  (That’s why, most often, the target is teenagers.) To fully capitalize on believability, a horror movie can always highlight the talent of its actors, except that here, there isn’t much to lean on.  Trevor (Daren Kagasoff) and Pete (Douglas Smith), if at all possible, should avoid horror roles in the future. All three are lifeless and dull as the expendable weak links of the group. I have an affinity towards Olivia Cooke (perhaps it’s because I am a Bates Motel viewer) but, despite her large, doe-like eyes, it seems Cooke is incapable of conveying a wide-set of emotions here. The only thing White has working for him, is my overactive imagination. Without that, it’s just another forgettable movie.

Final Thoughts: Ouija had the opportunity to terrify me beyond comprehension and was instead a movie aiming for and failing to elicit cheap screams from the teenager inside all of us.

Grade: D-