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Film Reviews Ouija: Origin of Evil ditches the jump-scares for a stylish prequel

Lulu Wilson in Ouija: Origin of Evil.

Universal Studios

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Written by
Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Directed by
Mike Flanagan
Starring
Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas
Genre
Horror
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

Ouija: Origin of Evil is the stylish prequel to 2014's silly-scary Ouija, which means that in the past two years there have been 200-per-cent-more Ouija board movies than Magic 8-Ball ones.

Set in the Los Angeles of 1967 and attractively shot with a Valley of the Dolls Instagram filter, Origin of Evil stars Elizabeth Reaser as a loving single mother who struggles to make ends meet as the seance-scamming Madame Zander. Everything is basically groovy until she brings home an Ouija board (Parker Brothers' entry into light-occult gaming). Taking to the planchette precociously, younger sister Doris is soon channelling like a champ. She's also creeping big sister Paulina out with her sudden fluency in Polish.

Director Mike Flanagan mostly eschews jump-scares as he deftly delivers a state of unease that incorporates a flirtatious rapport between mom and the young priest/principal of the girls' school. The film's schlocky ending is baffling, and a drop-in Holocaust twist to a house's supernatural secrets is out of place. Still, this is a prequel superior to its predecessor – we're not bored with board-game ghoulishness yet.

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