99 min. | PG-13
Hasbro Studios continues to churn out big-screen popcorn knockoffs of my childhood treasures. This second entry in the Ouija board franchise is surprisingly effective and finally captures some of the eerie panache of the board game in its 1960s-70s heyday. Vastly superior to its cheesy, contemporary precursor, Ouija: Origin is a slow burner of a horror film bolstered in the uncanny department by a fully onboard cast and a lovely rendering of 1967 Los Angeles.
Widowed Alice Zander (Elizabth Reaser) is a sham psychic and spiritual medium who raps tables and reads palms for a low-rent living with the assistance of her teen daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) and wide-eyed 9-year-old Doris. Alice believes she’s performing a public service, at five bucks a shot, to the living, providing “closure” to the grief-stricken. Lina’s fed up with the scam, but after she encounters the new Ouija board craze while at a friend’s house, the Hasbro phenom is incorporated into the family’s thriving spook show chicanery. Thriving, because the first thing the board does – with the assistance of little Doris– is to reveal a cached purse of much-needed money secreted in the basement walls.
Ouija: Origin builds a genuinely creepy and altogether October-friendly feel, up until a third-act, demon infested breakdown, when all hell breaks loose. It’s peppered with genre references and even goes so far as to mimic the 35mm reel-change marks in the upper left-hand corner of the screen every 15 minutes or so. Now that’s attention to period detail. Not so much horrific as it is just skeletons-in-the-basement creepy, this is a shuddery fun surprise for horror fans, who by the way should stick around until the closing credits are done for a special (if inevitable) trick or treat.