Directed by: Mike Flanagan – Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Alexis G. Zall
This follow up to the 2014 hit horror-flick, Ouija, is actually a prequel to the events of that movie. That’s not to say that this doesn’t put its own stamp on the franchise, and the fact that it is set almost 50 years before Ouija gives it its own definite identity.
Set in Los Angeles in 1967, we meet Alice Zander (Reaser) and her daughters. Following the death of her husband, she runs fake séances in order to make a living. Looking for a new gimmick that might give her readings a bit of an edge, she picks up a Ouija board. But her youngest daughter, Doris (Wilson) starts playing with it in an attempt to reach her father. It soon becomes obvious that she is managing to contact spirits through the board, and Alice begins to use her in her readings. But her sister, Lina (Basso) feels something isn’t right, and asks school principle Fr Tom (Henry – and, yes, he was the cute kid Elliot in ET) for help, little knowing just how grave the situation actually is.
Although not portrayed by the actors cast here, all the main characters were referenced in the first movie, although you don’t need to have seen that in order to make sense of this. It borrows heavily from many classic horrors – in particular there are many scenes that seem to be influenced by The Exorcist. They rely a lot on old school scares – a quick glimpse of a shadowy figure, the bang of a door – initially, but as the story develops, the movie does become more effects-heavy, but not to a distracting extent.
Young Wilson does a great job as Doris. She manages to be both creepy and sweet simultaneously. This is a tricky subject matter to get any young actor to portray, and she really handles herself well. Ditto Basso, who is also great here. This is in spite of a rather overblown script. It jars in places, and doesn’t sound organic at times. Things also move along at a rather strange pace, and when the reveal of what the evil is comes (as it always does in these movies) the back-story is somewhat contrived and complex. That aside, there is some lovely cinematography, and they do a great job of transporting the audience to the late 60s.
There is nothing groundbreaking in this movie, and whether you enjoy it will depend on if you are a fan of scary films. Its sole ambition is to make you jump out of your seat and leave your heart in your mouth, and it does indeed manage that. It’s not the greatest horror-movie ever made, nor is the story especially original (a possessed child – please! We’ve seen that hundreds of times) but it is entertaining, does what it says on the tin, and is perfect film fare for the season that’s in it.
It won’t convert non-horror fans, but those who like a spine-tingler that doesn’t require too much analysis will like this.
In Cinemas October 21st!