Having not written about the original Ouija probably the only way to dissect this one is via a comparative analysis. As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t go into a standard review with comparative analysis as one of my primary tools. I feel it is so separate and other from reviews that it is its own category on this blog.
Suffice it to say that the original film was one I disliked to such a degree that it was one of those I could describe as painful with a nearly precise degree of literalness. I was at times discomfited by my physical revulsion to the laziness, obviousness, and cliché of the so-called original venture.
Thus, going into this film I had a feeling that at best I’d end up saying after it was over: ”You know a prequel to a movie based on a board game has no business being this good,” but it went a bit beyond that, which in an of itself is quite a surprise.
The only things that really hold it back from going beyond that level are some of the over-the-top moments which I knew were there. There are just more of them but they weren’t ruinous. Some of them were how far the physical manifestations went, but most of it was about the CG.
However, even that didn’t go very far due to the fact wasn’t always subpar. Perhaps, what is most impressive is that I found myself noting that this film did little things you don’t see enough of lately. Namely:
- Visually it used focus, or lack thereof, to make some scares more subtle.
- The sound mix and design is excellent and restrained as necessary.
- Most of the jump scares are diegetic and involve the characters being jolted by real fright.
Knowing Flanagan’s other work, namely Oculus and the short film upon which it was based, I expected the performances to be on and show some depth but it ought not be taken for granted. When all was said and done at the end of the year Lulu Wilson was nominated at the BAM Awards, and the cast as a whole is very strong.
Very pleasantly surprised though I am wondering why this proto-franchise seems like its being constructed in reverse in terms of quality.
Mind you this is not to say that this redeems the Hasbro brand on film, but what it does do is fly in the face of the notion that prequels are less-than simply for the reason that it’s painting by numbers. Yes, there may be a blueprint but effort and creativity can take you down a different path. Furthermore, to continue the paint-by-numbers analogy, art can still be made either by disregarding the prescribed color or through technique. This film does both.