Stars: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas, Parker Mack, Halle Charlton, Alexis G. Zall, Doug Jones, Kate Siegel, Sam Anderson, Chelsea Gonzalez | Written by Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard | Directed by Mike Flanagan
When a horror film does well enough an inevitable sequel is churned out to make more money, and this could have been the case with Ouija. Giving the film to Mike Flanagan though and letting him do what he wants with it, horror fans are in for a treat. This is exactly what Ouija: Origin of Evil is, a treat for horror fans.
Set in 1967 Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to the first movie. In it we see single mother Doris Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) running a séance scam. When the Ouija board game is used as a new stunt to bolster their business, it seems that the dead may really be ready to make contact with the living.
Going for a prequel to Ouija is an interesting and smart move by Flanagan. The fact that the basic plot for this film has already been set up means that people who have seen the first feel at home here. Thankfully, for people new to Ouija there is also enough here to let them experience the origins of Lina and Doris without missing anything shown in the first film.
What is obvious is that Flanagan is a fan of classic horrors such as The Exorcist and The Changeling (he also reveals this in the commentary). There is a retro feel to Ouija: Origin of Evil that will instantly catch the eye of horror fans. Whether it is the use of the old Universal title screen at the beginning of the movie, or the tell-tale signs of old-school film style it just feels special. Even down to the cigarette burns at the end of reels, the nice little touches are there to make this feel like an old-school movie.
When it comes to Mike Flanagan he is fast becoming one of the best directors in the horror genre. I’m a fan of his past films such as Absentia, Oculus, and Hush and these have arguably been some of the best horrors in recent years. Thankfully he didn’t let us down with Ouija: Origin of Evil and he keeps the quality that we are beginning to expect from him.
Another nice touch that Flanagan has is to bring Annalise Basso into this film, who worked with him in Oculus. She gives a good performance as the older daughter in this movie, working alongside Lulu Wilson who takes on most of the creepier side of the film. Giving a believable performance, her description about being strangled to death is creepy and perfectly performed.
While there are some elements in the finale that didn’t work for me, Ouija: Origin of Evil is still an effective horror that manages to have its creepy moment. Flanagan is a director and writer who doesn’t rely on jump scares to make his horror work (though he does know when to fit a good one in). What he’s proven with Ouija: Origin of Evil is that he is continuing to provide fans with strong horror that are not only good genre movies but stand out as good films in their own right. If anything, this makes the fact he is doing Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game next an exciting prospect.
While Ouija may have been an enjoyable for forgetful movie, Flanagan has provided us with a sequel that is far superior. This is why Ouija: Origin of Evil is so easy to recommend to anybody looking for a good horror film. With directors like Mike Flanagan making movies like this, the future of horror is looking good.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is now available on Digital Download, Blu-ray and DVD.