Ouija

         
0 1 out of 5 stars
Director:
Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Shelley Hennig, Daren Kagasoff, Doulgas Smith, Ana Coto, Bianca Santos, Lin Shaye
Screenwriter(s):
Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Duration: 89 minutes
Release Date:
October 24, 2014
MPAA Rating:
PG-13

Five words that should never appear in the credits of any respectable horror movie: "Based on the Hasbro game…"

Ouija's high level of awfulness shouldn't surprise anyone, but there is, in fact, one sneaky little twist happening in this Michael Bay-produced example of Hollywood horror at its worst: Ouija actually has more in common Jenga, the game where you use indistinguishable blocks to build a wobbly tower that's always ready to fall apart. The blocks used here by director/co-writer Stiles White and co-writer Juliet Snowden aren't little rectangular pieces of wood, but, instead, ideas and images repurposed from countless other horror movies.

Ouija's plot, about youngsters who play with the dead-summoning board and unleash a supernatural evil, was previously employed in the 1980s schlock flicks Witchboard and Spookies. The one-by-one murder parade executed by Ouija's malevolent spirit, in which it offs the group of blandly acted teenagers when they're alone, is jacked straight from the Final Destination playbook. The ominous warning messages left by said spirit before it starts eliminating the characters ("Hi Friend") is a dull variation of I Know What You Did Last Summer. The rest of Ouija's narrative ticks come from insert-random-supernatural-horror-flick-here, from the inclusion of an elder female Hispanic housekeeper who, of course, has all the answers (see: Paranormal Activity 2), to the lazy backstory-dumping method of having characters visit an unstable geriatric who's locked away in seclusion (try both The Ring movies)—in this case, the location is a psych ward, and the elder is played by horror regular Lin Shaye (the Insidious movies), Ouija's lone spark plug.

And lastly, just for good measure, there's even a third-act ghoul whose long-jawed face and decrepit skin tone make it seem like a reject from The Conjuring.

Stacked together, all of those familiar elements add up to the year's lamest major-studio horror movie. Ouija's final derivative building block is, duh, an obligatory closing-scene jolt that mimics every horror film post Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976). And with that last-second "Gotcha!" moment, Ouija's maddeningly Jenga-esque construction totally crumbles.

Last October, in light of horror fans only getting a pointless and forgettable Carrie remake that month, I wrote about how Hollywood had given up on the Halloween season in a post-Saw-franchise climate and in a year without a new Paranormal Activity sequel. Ouija, though, represents something far worse than 2013's Carrie write-off. It's nothing more than a cash grab by Michael Bay and his cronies disguised as a board game movie, engineered by genre-disrespecting producers who know that undiscerning teenagers will—just for the hell of it, since Halloween's only a week away—see a new not-so-scary movie this weekend. If only those ticket-buyers had a Clue—yes, "Based on the Hasbro game…"

Matt Barone is a Complex senior staff writer who's partial to the Ouija board's use in the 1986 horror shitshow Spookies. He tweets here.