Olivia Cooke and friends
With Annabelle still hanging around theaters, horror gets a new addition with a big-screen version of the spirit board game, Ouija. After a pretty young blond (Shelley Hennig) apparently kills herself, her friends, led by Laine (Olivia Cooke, AMC’s “Bates Motel”), decide to investigate by using the dead friend’s spirit board to contact her. Unfortunately, whom they contact is a dangerous, angry ghost that starts killing off the group one by one.
The Possession’s Stiles White directs and cowrites Ouija like a standard ‘80s slasher flick (where are these kids’ parents?), with an invisible killer à la Final Destination. The movie has the most scary fun when the teens are mid-séance. One wishes White and cowriter Juliet Snowden could have forced a few more spirit-board sequences into the movie. The tension when Laine looks through the planchette, the window through which one can view these ghosts, is much stronger than the conventional haunted-house sequence that dominates the final act. Positively, the filmmaking duo conjures the vibe of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, minus the scares, ingenious effects and set pieces or Freddy. Cooke makes a great Nancy, as well. Anyone who has seen “Bates” or The Quiet Ones knows Cooke can be exceptional in spite of the material. Here, she’s strong and still relatively high school-ish. The brief appearances by Nightmare alum Lin Shaye (sister of Nightmare producer and former New Line Cinema chief Bob Shaye) are also entertaining highlights. My major question is whether or not the American Dental Association sponsored this pic; I’ve never seen so much flossing.