Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to a spooky, yet lackluster original title Ouija that scared me but received abysmal reviews. I don't recall all of what happened in the original but I remembered some of the story and the twist in that one that leads to the story laid out in this movie. The setting is 1967 in the same house where murders would come back to haunt teenagers in the present day. During this time period a family that runs scams about contacting the dead lives there, a mother Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser), and her two daughters Lina (Annalise Basso) and Doris (Lulu Wilson).
To spice up the act, Alice brings home a ouija board, Doris plays with it by herself and starts to communicate with an otherworldly being. The special effects are subtle and not too overused but as Doris becomes more possessed her eyes turn white and her mouth stretches overly large to create a disturbing visual. The movie establishes a decent emotional core as the three women mourn the loss of the father and husband. The need to reach out to the dead is understandable as they tread into dark magic.
Doris begins to act stranger as Lina has horrifying images of her mouth closing shut. A priest, Father Tom (Henry Thomas) becomes involved as he discovers the strange behavior leads to a more sinister plot by demonic spirits and the ghosts of tortured humans. The backstory is dumped on us in a bit of a rush as the movie speeds up towards a creepy climax. I wonder if they will continue pushing the story into the past if it is a success at the box office this weekend.
The set pieces put viewers in the time period and all the costumes looked great as well taking us away from the world of internet and smartphones. The acting was great as well with an impressive performance from Wilson as the young possess Doris who has to carry most of the horror and her smug grin spooked me thoroughly. Basso and Reaser also deliver brilliant performances that make the acting in this film better than the usual horror fare.
As far as horror films go, this one is impressive enough, though nothing that will keep you up at night and thinking about it too long afterward. It's tough to realize that Halloween won't be having any other horror movie except for this one but it's satisfying enough to have me squirming in my seat and enjoying the suspense and tension. Ouija was a movie that really didn't need a sequel but this one is fun nonetheless.