Ouija is Hasbro’s first outing into the horror genre, and sadly, it shows. From a predictable plot, one-dimensional characters and an atrocious ending that seems to beg for a sequel, there is nothing new that the film offers. In fact, if it wasn’t for the constant jump scares, most of the audience would probably nod off.
A lesson that anyone who has ever seen this type of horror before knows: never mess around with an Ouija board. Ever. Even if you think it’s a game, things never end happily. Of course, the teens of Ouija have never been told this and expectedly mess around with the spirit world, with dire results.
Events are set in motion when Debbie (Shelley Hennig) plays with the board and ends up possessed, hanging herself. This draws together her friends who, led by Laine (Olivia Cooke), try to find out what really happened to their deceased friend.
Ouija‘s lack of originality is perhaps seen most in its main group of characters. Laine (Olivia Cooke) is the typical goody two shoes older sister contrasting with her estranged ‘different’ sibling Sarah (Ana Coto). Their dynamic is underdeveloped – Sarah’s ‘badness’ is established by just one line: “Just my sister mucking things up again”, and one attempt to sneak out after hours. Also, for such different sisters, they seem to hang around Laine’s friends (that or the writers just forgot that Sarah should have at least one pal of her own).
Joining them on their investigation are Laine’s good-looking but dull boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasof), Debbie’s equally dull but slightly odd boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) and Laine’s superstitious bestie Isabella (Bianca A. Santos).
Sadly, with little or no character development given to any of the characters, when events begin to conspire against the teens, it’s hard to even care who survives and who doesn’t, especially as even the deaths seem like they’ve been ripped straight off of the storyboard session from Final Destination.
In recent years, the most successful films of the horror genre have been successful because they do something unexpected, something different, mixing jump scares in with suspense and clever scares that leave audiences chilled. Ouija offers jump scare after jump scare, which though effective in keeping audiences awake, do not offer anything that hasn’t been done before. In fact, jump scares are used so much in this film, they actually become expected and cease to scare.
The typical horror conventions are supplied by the teens’ stupidity. When they first walk into the house, they don’t turn on the lights like a normal person, instead wandering around via the guided light of their phones. No surprises, jump scares galore.
In terms of plot, there sadly isn’t much going on either. The one plot twist is fairly predictable and has, once again, been done in other, better horror films. There were perhaps moments where it felt like the film was building up suspense, seemingly breaking new ground, before throwing in a jump scare and returning to square one. The ambiguous ending is also irritating, seemingly expecting a sequel. If Ouija 2 is indeed on the cards, it will need to be a vast improvement.
Ouija is not an original horror flick by any means. With dull characters and a ridiculous number of jump scares, it comes across as almost a parody in fact, and I kind of wish it was. However, there are moments where the suspense rises slightly and an appearance from Insidious’ Lin Shaye brought at least a smile to my face.