I have a strong suspicion that there is a recurring notification on the schedule of some Hollywood executives, particularly those who specialize in approving horror films. On a regular basis, film centering on the demonic powers of the Ouija board. It’s been happening on such a regular basis. On both film and television, this piece of cardboard and a plastic pointer, technically referred to as the planchette, our uses a plot contrivance to permit a group of unsuspecting, regular people to make contact with the sinister in a cult forces beyond the veil of our mortal coil. This is so ingrained in our cultural zeitgeist that there was even a séance episode in the 1950s television classic, ‘I Love Lucy’. It is also one of the most polarizing items found in our society. It’s considered harmless enough to show up TV sitcoms and movies of most genres, but is also condemned as exceptionally dangerous by many major religions. Even for very early age. There was something about the mystical power of this device. That gave me ample rationale to doubt the validity of this unending controversy.
The mass marketed Ouija boards are now produced by Hasbro, the same company that stamps out a wide line of toys, including G.I. Joe action figures. The ones I remember from my youth were produced by the Parker Brothers Company, the major purveyor of board games, including Monopoly, as well as Chutes and Ladders. I had to wonder, even at such a tender age, why would the demonic forces of eternal perdition mass-produce portals to the underworld through a family board game company? That was the insanity or one of the most devious satanic plots in history. Considering the lack of mass possessions and demonically induced havoc, I had to conclude with nothing more than a cheap piece of plastic and cardboard. Still, it manages to find its way on a regular basis as an innocuous item that opens the portal to unimaginable torment and evil.
A friend of mine who is an author, has a deck of cards that she uses for a laugh or two that seem to be utilized extensively by screenwriters who come up with the script for movies like this. The cards have suggestions as if necessary aspects for screenplay as location, time period, general situation in basic themes. In this case, the cards that were dealt included the ever popular prologue of characters as children in order to suggest they have been dabbling in the occult many years and, the first look at the titular Ouija board in the home in the harmless setting of a suburban home. The girls, Laine Morris (Afra Sophia Tully) and Debbie Galardi (Claire Beale), look to be around 10 years old as they sit on the shag carpeted floor with the spirit board between them. It is clear that Debbie is the stronger willed of the two girls. She urges Laine to be calm and not get upset. Why shrouding their playtime with the façade of the occult. She has little chance to recite and tells her friend that if you work through the clear plastic of the pointer, you can see to the other side. She admonishes Laine never play alone. The little ‘séance’ is interrupted by Laine’s younger sister, Sarah (Izzie Galanti). This quickly fades into the modern day will be watch as Debbie is playing with the board by herself. It bears noting, that the board that the little girl playing with was a mass-produced model that Parker Brothers used to sell. In contrast, the board being used by the older Debbie (Shelley Hennig), as a more authentically rustic look like something you might see on the TV show like ‘American Pickers’. It is made of; well weathered wood with obvious signs of years of use. The pointer is not the cheap plastic variety, but also made of vintage wood with the lens in the middle. She pulls the pointer to the bottom ‘Goodbye’, picking the board in planchette up and tossing them in the roaring fireplace. After receiving a phone call from Laine (Olivia Cooke), Debbie goes outside the house and has a brief conversation with her returning to have a meal and go up to her room. There, she finds the planchette on the floor of our bedroom and the board, unharmed, on her bed. Eyes turned white, a refreshing change from the usual demonic black, and Debbie proceeds to commit suicide by hanging herself.
Only a day or two after that, Laine is out with her boyfriend, Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), when they run into their friend Isabel (Bianca A. Santos) in a text message informs the group of Debbie suicide. After the funeral Laine comes of course the Ouija board and decides to call her friends over for séance. Besides Isabel and Trevor she invites her sister Sarah (Ana Coto), in Betty’s boyfriend, Pete (Douglas Smith). The board seems to be too useful as the letter ‘D’ is indicated with everyone adamantly denying it pushed the pointer. Understandably upset. They are too frightened to go on and they stop. Going by curiosity, frequently a very bad thing in situations such as this, they reconvene and each one finds a message ‘Hi There,’ in various locations. They take the letter’D’ to indicate that Debbie is trying to contact them, but that is proven wrong when Laine looks through the planchette to see a young woman with her mouth sewn together.
While the screenplay did possess a modicum of promise, the situation in various plot contrivances are so overused as to completely dilute any chance of being frightening. You might recognize young actress who plays Laine, Olivia Cooke, as a regular character on a television series that is far more frightening significantly better constructed, ‘Bates Motel’. Young cast does give it their all into their credit appeared to give more effort to their performances than most would agree to be generally warranted. You know this is going to be a case of clueless teenagers’ cueing up to be killed by some demonic force leaving only the survivor girl. Typically, there has to be some loose and not accounted for that can be used to justify a sequel. Despite the negative reception the movie cost approximately $5 million to produce. Opening weekend, it managed to yield a box office of just under $20 million. Revenue from cable and streaming services as well as DVD sales, the return on the investment is bound to be significantly larger than 4 to 1. Studios have been known to go the subsequent films with far less justification. This is especially true in bad economic times when is a decline in ticket sales. A movie that can be cheaply and quickly produced with a reasonable expectation of significant profits is more likely than not to be revisited.
The film is predictable, the elements of a supposed to be frightening have just been seen too many times before. The stove lighting itself, so popping popcorn and a history attached to the house that just happens to center on an exceptionally psychologically disturbed mother and her child who just happened to have her mouth sewn shut. So many of the scenes have the feeling of being spliced from the ending full of other horror films that if you are going to watch this movie with friends, you might want to make it part of MST3K, the home game.