“Hi friend.”

You’ve put your hand down on the planchette and opened up the spirit board.  You’ve made a
connection with the Haunting Usher.  Let me scare you out of your seat.  I've got a hell of a lot
to say about the new movie "Ouija" directed by Stiles White.

A group of friends are drawn together after losing one of their own, Debbie Galardi to an
apparent suicide.  While mourning Debbie’s loss and questioning what compelled her to kill
herself, her best-friend Laine Morris suspects her death is mysteriously connected to a spirit
board.  Laine gathers those closest to Debbie to reconnect with her using the Ouija board and
awaken an ancient malevolent presence.

To be fair, "Ouija" accurately depicts the board and warns viewers of the dangers involved in
using it.  For instance, you're never supposed to play it in a graveyard, never play it alone, and
always say goodbye.  

The movie contains some shocking moments, one in particular where evil spirit possesses a
girl, lifts her off her feet and then slams her head into the bathroom sink.  We don’t actually
see what the spirit looks like until halfway through the film, which is a great way to create
mystery and suspense.  There are also some twists and turns thrown in for good measure.

"Ouija" attempts to be unique.  By focusing on a theme of loss and delivering a message…”you
never know when the last time you’ll ever get to say goodbye to a loved one will be,” it
touches the audience on a personal level, which is rare.

Nevertheless, this movie needs work.

First, Debbie (Shelley Hennig) declines a night-out with her best-friend Laine (Olivia Cooke)
because she can’t think of anything more exciting than eating leftovers and watching the Ouija
board burn in the fireplace.  Ah, who the hell needs a social life, anyway?  Debbie’s motivations
here come across as contrived.  She’s making these decisions simply because the plot
demands it.

Following Debbie’s untimely death, Laine house-sits at the same exact house where her friend
committed suicide while her parents go away for the weekend.  Why they decided to leave a
depressed teenage girl all alone in a house with the Ouija board we’ll never know.  What
better way to recover from grieving her friend than hanging out in her bedroom surrounded by
memories?  It is one thing to put a character in a situation that’s bound to turn into a horrific
disaster, but quite another to do it in a way that’s blatantly unrealistic and ultimately
predictable.

After the third or fourth time using the spirit board, Laine and her friends discover they were
never really talking to Debbie at all, but a demonic force that bursts forth and tries to kill them.  
So, in trying to contact someone from the dead the possibility of summoning a vicious entity
clearly never occurred to them. Laine breaks a promise to Debbie’s mother that she will never
touch the Ouija board again, but nobody listens to old people in horror movies, anyway.

Cue the old man Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th:  “I’m a messenger of God.  You’re doomed.  
You’ re all doomed.”

This isn’t a flaw necessarily, but it certainly doesn’t help create sympathy for the main
character.

Also, what horror flick would be complete without its useless character?  That’s right, the
person who blurts out the dumbest lines and contributes practically nothing to the plot.  Well,
there is one such character in "Ouija."  Her name is Sarah Morris, Laine’s sister, played by Ana
Coto.  A single line of dialogue was all it took to convince me of her role in the scheme of
things.  “How are we supposed to contact Debbie using a stupid board game?  I’m sorry I can’t
hear you the signal is breaking up.  I’ve only got one bar in here.”   

I’m well aware that horror movies are often populated with people whose IQ scores could be
compared to bargain basement rates, but comparing the Ouija board to a cell phone, I’m sorry,
but that makes some of the people in the Halloween movies look like champions on Jeopardy.  
Oddly enough, this may or may not qualify as a spoiler alert, Sarah never dies.  Imagine that.  If
there’s one thing that separates "Ouija" from thousands of other horror movies is the useless
character never dies!!!

Overall, "Ouija" relies solely on juvenile jump scares to make up for glaring holes and an
awkward plot.  Geared toward adolescents as a target audience, this movie is limited in its
potential.  It echoes a similar vibe and is just as formulaic as other movies that come before it
such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream.  Had "Ouija" been character driven
and had the screenplay been written with a more mature audience in mind, the film could have
been deeper and more psychologically frightening, which as far as I’m concerned, is much
more sophisticated.

I’m the Haunting Usher.  Let me scare you out of the spirit world.  

Coincidentally, I wrote a book about a coed who vanishes into a spirit board.  It’s called
Infirmitas and it's frighteningly better than the lame scare-fest that spent a whole two weeks in
theaters.

Do you agree with my review?  What experiences have you had communicating with the other
side?  
Let me know in the comments section.

Oh,  and if you don't mind I would appreciate it if you slide the planchette to down to the lower
half of the board and close out our conversation.

Goodbye.
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