Ouija: Origin of Evil movie full length review - This movie does a better job of connecting its story to the previous film that it does of connecting events within its own story.
Ouija boards developed from practices that are nearly 1,000 years old and have been controversial almost from the very beginning.
The modern version of the boards, which supposedly allow users to communicate with the spirits of the deceased, developed out of the centuries-old Chinese usage of an automatic writing method. The hole in the moveable planchette device was eventually widened and the writing implement was replaced by a small piece of glass through which users could see letters and words on a flat board, thus receiving messages from the spirit world. This "Ouija board" (the name probably coming from combining the French and German words for "yes") was patented in the U.S. in 1890. It has survived in the same basic form up to the present, but has been criticized - by scientists who claim that the users are the ones actually moving the planchette (whether deliberately or unconsciously) - and by Christian groups who believe that the boards could lead to demonic possession. This fear, coupled with the game's origins, became the force behind a dozen or so horror movies since the 1980s. 2016's "Ouija: Origin of Evil" (PG-13, 1:39) is a prequel to the "Ouija" horror film released in 2014.
This film portrays the origin story of the evil in that house featured in the first film, much as it was related in "Ouija". "Ouija: Origin of Evil", takes place in the mid-1960s and focuses on the three female characters at the center of the 2014 film's mythology. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) is a widowed mother of a teenager named Paulina (Annalise Brasso), or Lina, as her family calls her, and a little girl named Doris (Lulu Wilson). Alice tries to support her small family by conducting séances for grieving people desperate to speak to their deceased loved ones. Alice has a few tricks up her sleeve to help her unsuspecting clients believe that the information she gives them is for real and that their dead relatives are really blowing out candles in response to specific questions. Alice's girls are in hiding, making the tricks work. Lina accepts that it's just a scam, but Doris doesn't really understand everything they're doing, so Alice explains that they're helping people by comforting them and giving them needed closure.
After attending a party during which her friends played with a Ouija board, Lina convinces her mother to add one to the act. As Alice is working out how to manipulate the board's planchette for her "readings", she accidentally summons a spirit which begins possessing young Doris. As the spirit seems to come and go, Doris starts acting more and more strangely ? doing her homework in ways that are beyond her capability, frighteningly dealing with a schoolyard bully, channeling voices, learning the hidden secrets of their old house and, just maybe, talking to the spirit of her dead dad. Of course, Alice is worried about her daughter, but comes to believe that Doris is a legitimate medium, like Alice's mother was ? and Alice wants to talk to her deceased husband too. Unfortunately for everyone involved, this is a dangerous game that Alice is playing. Caught in the middle of all this is Lina's boyfriend, Mikey (Peter Mack), and the principal at Doris' Catholic School, Father Tom (Henry Thomas), who helps Alice figure out what's happening and why, what's real and what's not, and what to do about it, risking his own life to do so.
"Ouija: Origin of Evil" does a good job of connecting its story to the original movie? but that's part of the problem. You won't necessarily be lost if you haven't seen 2014's "Ouija", but you won't fully appreciate what's going on either (especially in the very short post-credits scene, which you should just skip if you haven't seen the first film). Apart from the connections between the films, the connections between events in this film are not well established by Mike Flanagan's and Jeff Howard's script, and Howard's direction fails to build any real sense of dread ? or much concern for the characters. Also not helping matters is the acting, which is pretty shaky, except for during the film's climax. Unfortunately, that resolution feels even more random and disjointed than the developments leading up to it. Many people seem to feel that this film is an improvement on the original, but that's not saying very much. Actually, knowing that these films are produced by Hasbro Studios, which is owned by Hasbro Inc., the company which currently produces the official Ouija boards, tells you all that you really need to know. If you have a Ouija board, ask it whether you should go to see this movie. If the planchette moves and hovers over the word "NO"? well? there might be something to those boards after all. "C-"