Ouija: Origin of Evil Should Have Been First
In 2014 the horror film Ouija hit theaters. It was… pretty bad. The film itself had no substance and the characters were as generic as they come. Some of the scares hit pretty well, but for the most part I would say “lackluster” best described the movie. So, when the company behind the film announced that they’d be doing a prequel, there was some confusion flying around. I hadn’t seen Ouija; I never really had the urge to, even though I like watching all types of horror from good to bad to holy hell this is terrible. However, once Ouija: Origin of Evil started gaining some good press I felt the need to watch the first before seeing the prequel, and here’s the part that bothers me the most: I wish I hadn’t.
The entire prequel is pretty much played out in the first film.
The idea of the “origin of evil” in the prequel makes no sense because we learn about the origin in the first film in almost full-fledged detail. In fact, almost all of Ouija has to do with the main characters learning about the family that used to live in the house (the main characters of Origin of Evil). This confused me so much. The entire prequel is pretty much played out in the first film. So what was it that we got from Origin of Evil that Ouija wasn’t able to give us? Well, honestly not much. The three female leads are great. The film sets itself pretty solidly in the late 60’s era. There are some definite creepy moments but nothing that made me overtly frightened or even excited to be watching this film in theaters.
There’s nothing uniquely terrifying about them [demons] as a villain...
Once again, we were introduced to these characters in the first film and we learned about the outcome. The first film literally gives us the ending of the prequel so I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be investing my time in. The film would have been much stronger had the first film not been made. In a way, we can make a weird comparison to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. It seemed that director Mike Flanagan set out to make his version of a James Wan film. I know that probably sounds pretentious, but hear me out. If there’s one thing James Wan is known for in the horror world, it’s his abundant use of incredibly unique demons. Wan and his team have always crafted some of the most influential villains of supernatural horror. So it only makes sense Flanagan would want to copy his style, right? Yes, I think his version of demons in the film are a nice homage to James Wan’s antagonists but they don’t really do any justice to his own film. The demons feel cheap and recycled. There’s nothing uniquely terrifying about them as a villain and this leads me to one of my biggest complaints about the film.
Once Doris (Lulu Wilson) becomes possessed, we never truly see the evil that’s possessing her again. Throughout the film it’s only her and this bothered me much more than I thought it would. When it comes to a possession film, which at its bones this is, we need to know the demon as a separate entity and not just a leech on our main character. Yes, it can be scary to see a young girl acting possessed, but that fear is not equivalent to the fear when we know the demon that’s possessing her. Again, I hate to make these comparisons, but take James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 for example. We don’t just see Janet as the possessed little girl, we see the entities that are taking hold of her in Bill Wilkins, the Crooked Man, and even Valak. These three separate entities create the fear that envelopes you while watching, not the little girl.
If the horror doesn’t have passion behind it...then it’s going to fall ridiculously short of its mark.
The issues with Ouija: Origin of Evil are evident. It’s a story we were literally told in its predecessor. The scares are decent at best. The special effects are at times laughable. I give the film credit for what it is attempting but it was missing a very important aspect of horror: heart. I know that may sound silly, but it’s true. If the horror doesn’t have passion behind it (or any film for that matter) then it’s going to fall ridiculously short of its mark. I appreciate what the cast and crew set out to do, they just didn’t get it done unfortunately.