Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ouija (2014)

“Hey, guys! Let's make a movie based around a Ouija board! Hasbro would really love that!”

“Uh, I'm not sure that's a good idea at all...”

Then that second guy was dragged out of the board meeting for Satan's Movie Studio, and a gunshot was heard. His body was hung up on a cross in the front lobby to set an example for anyone else with similarly contrarian ideas. Hasbro executives collectively grunted their approval in deep demonic voices like the rumblings of a dragon's bowels. The first guy was promoted to God of the company that same afternoon. Production on the movie Ouija began the next day.

Director: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Douglas Smith

Co-written with Michelle.

This was produced by Michael Bay and Brad Fuller, the guys behind a production company called Platinum Dunes. If you don't know who they are, well, they produced a range of movies from merely terrible, like the Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street remakes, to absolute unholy crap like The Purge: Anarchy, The Hitcher remake and The Unborn. Christ, their line-up reads like scrolling through the past history of Cinema Freaks.

Anyway, like all great films, this began production in 2008, six years before it actually came out, and went through a shitload of script changes, director changes and basically everything else, with the promise of a super huge Pirates of the Caribbean style adventure with a huge budget. Yes, a Pirates-level budget for a fucking board game movie.

...I think it's really just time for everyone in Hollywood to go home and spend some time with their families. You know, before their families disown them for stupid shit like making blockbuster films out of board games.

Things seemed to be looking up in 2011 when the film seemed to be dead in the water due to budget issues, but only a few months later, it was unfortunately revived, like some horrible Re-Animator-esque abomination. And now we have to suffer for it. My favorite part is that, apparently, after its botched and horrific revival, they went with a significantly lower budget for the final project, as if to say, "yes, we've come to our senses and realized we can rob audiences of their money and time, for less of a budget."

The movie begins with a blonde girl named Debbie playing with a Ouija board with her friend, Laine. They're both little children at this point, which makes sense, because no one but little children will be scared by the movie.

Then we flash forward years later to when Debbie is a teenager. She never got over that Ouija thing, and she's still playing with it now, because characters in these movies are flatter than concrete outside and have no believable motivations. We see her tossing the board into a fire, which is really rude, because I'm sure her parents paid a lot to buy that piece of shit.

Hmm, that second image doesn't seem right. Let's fix that:

Ahh yes. Much better.

She wanders around for a bit and notices weird things like doors opening and closing slowly by themselves. Usually, when that happens, I call my fucking landlord and tell him the hinges are kind of loose, but I guess here it's supposed to be scary.

Also, the burner is on! Maybe you should pay more attention when you're cooking.

They should just put a pan on the stove and start cooking. Take the chance! Ghosts be damned.

Burning that Ouija board was apparently not the right move, though, as then Debbie gets hanged by a bunch of Christmas lights.

75% of people hang themselves if their parents bought them Hasbro toys as kids.

Based on the sad music and the people in black carrying flowers up to a house, I'm guessing we're supposed to be feeling sad or something.


It's good they put those cliches in the movie, because otherwise I wouldn't feel anything for Debbie. We knew nothing about her – she was basically just put in to be a standard open kill. They spend so much time dwelling on how sad everyone is, though, so I guess I'm just emotionally dead from watching so many of these terrible scenes over and over.

Laine is now also grown up, and she spends her time hanging out in comically anachronistic looking diners with her boyfriend, who seems to think John Hughes movie fashion is still cool. Because I guess Bay and his cohorts all have zero idea what anything in real life is like now. They probably haven't even seen the outside of their board room in years.

Like, totally hip, man. Breakfast Club.

After Debbie's death, Laine spins totally off the rails and demands that all of her friends accompany her to the creepy abandoned house of the dead girl and play the Ouija board to see if there was anything they could have done to prevent her suicide. Which is totally acceptable and sane. “Hey, could we have done anything to prevent you killing yourself? Yes? Wow, I feel better already!”

Let's get real for a second; knowing whether or not you could have stopped someone from committing suicide wouldn't help you at all. Are you insane? Who writes something like that?

I also love how they all accuse each other of moving the Ouija counter thing around just to prank one another. Like that's something these people believe their friends would apparently do a day after their friend committed suicide. Maybe in that case, you guys all need to stop hanging out, because you're all horrible people. Frankly, I think they should have asked the Ouija board if they'd still have careers after this movie. The answer would have, no doubt, disappointed them.

For some reason, they all get up and walk around the house afterward, because despite the fact that all of them have repeatedly stated they don't believe the game works, they're now superstitious. You guys really have the fortitude of a marshmallow left out in the sun, you know.

But they do all end up leaving, and go home, you know, like you do after your friend forces you to play with a Ouija board to work through her insane grief. I love how in one of the next scenes, Laine apologizes to one of the others and says she won't do it again. Yeah, you know, just a normal way of coping – playing with Ouija boards to try and defy the laws of death. You know, time heals all wounds!

All is not well, though, when everyone starts seeing this mysterious phrase “Hi Friend” all over the place. One time it's creepily in a car in the cold...

In this one, a human hand slams on the inside of the window afterward as if someone was inside the car. The girl doesn't question this at all, gets inside the car, and then nothing else happens. I guess the movie was just drunk and forgot to make that scare mean anything.

There's one time where it's written on the wall of a creepy tunnel – though I think that time was just a poor homeless guy being crazy.

The money used to make the movie could have been put to helping the homeless. But instead, the movie was made. Was it worth it?

Another time, it's written on a word processor on a computer screen:

What is wrong with you, movie? Are those things really equivalent? No better way you could've conveyed the horror of the situation? It's really just so evident nobody making this really cared.

If you can believe it, they actually go back and try the Ouija board again after seeing these things, because their sense of consequence and action is so fucked up that even jailed convicts would wonder what they were thinking. This time, the ghost just up and reveals itself to NOT be Debbie, but instead a mysterious evil entity called “DZ.” I just don't get why the ghost revealed itself that fast. Surely a better plan would have been to keep pretending to be their dead friend and lull them into a false sense of security. I'm not even a malignant entity of hell (despite what some people would tell you) and even I can see how this could have been better.

So I guess this one girl dies when she sees the Ouija board ghost in the mirror, and the ghost slams her head against the bathroom sink. It's good to know that, if you die from having your head brutally bashed against hard ceramic, your makeup won't run and all you'll get is a tiny gash on your upper forehead. How cosmetically convenient.

Yup, looks like her face was smashed against a sink...

There's also this other woman, a Spanish housekeeper for Laine's family, who of course knows everything about Ouija boards and has no other character besides that. Wow. You know, they used to cut peoples' hands off for stealing things. Can we reinstate that now, except for people who write hack work racist trash like this that doesn't help anyone? No? Damn. Why does this keep happening when I try to propose new rules?!

After that, if you can believe it, we get a long and drawn out scene where Laine and Pete, who was Debbie's boyfriend, actually sit around and search for clues about who the ghost is that's haunting them. All they have is that name, DZ, but through the convenience of lazy script writing, they find out what they need to know. Apparently, some little girl went missing years ago, and her mother was thought to have killed her, and blah, blah, blah. Whatever!

"My brain is a pile of oatmeal-y mush because of the script, but we found what we needed! Hooray! Durrr...."

This leads Laine to go find the sister of the girl who went missing. The sister is apparently now in a mental hospital because she killed her mother years ago for apparently killing the other sister. If you're confused reading that, don't be; no one cared when writing it. Just go with it.

This character is played by Lin Shaye, who was obviously also in all the Insidious movies. Goddamn, did you just have her blackmailed to keep appearing in all these dumb supernatural movies? Did you just grab her right off the set of Insidious 3 and plop her in a wheelchair for this one? You must at least really be paying her well. Shit.

What kind of awful Satanic magic did you guys use to force her to keep doing all of these films? Jesus. I can't imagine the Kafkaesque nightmare her life must be doing all these pieces of utter garbage year after year. Does she get them confused? Like, she'll be on Insidious 5: The Great Who Cares and then go 'hey, aren't we on Ouija 3: It Still Fucking Sucks?' And then they'll go, no, this is Insidious, and funnel more money into her bank account. And the cycle will continue.

The character here is, somehow, even less substantial than her character from Insidious, as she only exists to spew EVEN MORE soul-sucking exposition – this time about how the only way to stop the killings is to free the little girl ghost from the evil mother ghost. I was bored just writing that sentence, and the movie doesn't seem to care either. It's a carnival of not caring up in this shit. But hey, Hasbro got your money, so I guess they won out in a way.

So we get a very silly scene where they find this dead body under Debbie's old house, and then cut off these stitches on her mouth. I guess for some reason that's what breaks the spell – it's kind of like something out of a really cheap haunted house.

This scene would only be cool if Indiana Jones was in the background stealing a gold chalice or some shit.

After that, it seems like it's all over, but whoops, apparently not! Because the movie doesn't seem to get that we want it to go away and stop annoying us, apparently Lin Shaye's crazy old lady character was lying, and it was the little girl ghost who was evil the whole time, and NOT the mother ghost! Wow. Maybe you shouldn't listen to a murderer who lives in an insane asylum, huh? Maybe that would have been better.

Oh, and then she goes full on cartoon villain and starts cackling insanely about how her evil ghost sister will come save her. She gets dragged off by security, presumably to never be allowed to interact with the outside world again. Man, I really don't think THAT was a good plan...but whatever.


So the boyfriend gets killed off unceremoniously in a pool, which is a callback to a scene earlier where he played with the pool tarp. That's really clever if the only other movie or TV you've ever seen is Blue's Clues. They also have the gall to insult our intelligence by having him show up with his back to them, as if there's any possibility he's not going to be dead and it's not going to be a stupid jump scare.


Then right when Laine is about to die, the ghost of Debbie appears very conveniently and stops things right as the movie is reaching its climax – I mean, she could have stepped in earlier, but where would the fun have been in that?

"I had to wait until now, the most dramatically convenient time, because otherwise the movie wouldn't have been good!"
"The movie already isn't good!"
*Fiery cataclysm of death*

So that's Ouija – what can I say, it wasn't good. The bar was set super low already – it's a corporate product put out to make money for Hasbro. The characters, writing, plot, scary moments, atmosphere and everything else are all terrible. The script is stereotypical and shallow, with zero real meaning to anything that happens. Characters act in ridiculous ways for no reason and the story isn't about anything except “this toy is cool!” Like the 2011 The Thing prequel, it really shows how much active disdain there is for horror in Hollywood – this is a joke to them, and they do not think it's worth their time to put any effort into.

Don't spend your money on this crap. Download it illegally, and then write scathing reviews online. I don't know if that will make a difference, but it's worth it if you really need to vent your annoyance with how bad this movie is, and how bad everything else the people who made it were involved with is. And hey, it's a better pastime then playing with a fucking Ouija board from Hasbro.

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