After a huge hiatus of watching or reviewing any horror (since any recent productions have been so catastrophically disappointing. I’m looking at you, Babadook), last night I watched Ouija, and felt the need to write again. So, let’s start from the top.
Ouija is yet another offspring of the jumpscare reliant-sequel crowd, from 2013 onwards (The Conjuring, Annabelle, Insidious 2/3 and Sinister 2) but with One Missed Call mixed in there. Artistically Ouija is not remotely interesting, the monsters look stale (a stitched mouth?! come on) and not frightening, soundtrack was cripplingly insignificant, sets were also very uninteresting. All signs of an intelligent plot twist seem to have vanished out of the window, and apparently need to be made explicitly obvious in on-screen dialogue for people to understand it. With this, I refer to the dialogue between Lin Shaye and the protagonist, when she tells her the evil spirit is in fact her sister. Cringe central, and it occurred to me as I already mentioned, that this is pretty much taken straight from the plot of One Missed Call.
Methods of scare/building atmosphere are nonexistent, and I guessed correctly most of the time what would happen to characters, and when jump scares were coming. It’s true, to an extent audiences like tropes, but not to the point you’re watching a film you already know every turn of the way. That’s tedious, and unimaginatively lazy. Subverting tropes is all part of the fun to keep the audience on their toes.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m genuinely bored of seeing horror narratives play out having characters do the exact opposite of what anyone would do in real life. I also could be wrong on the empathy front, but I’d imagine most people would be severely emotionally traumatised by the death of multiple close friends. Nope, not the cast of ‘teens’ in Ouija. In fact I barely even remember anyone being upset at the death of the first girl. There’s also the interesting debate of how incredibly normal it is for the parents of these teens, to leave them to sit the house in which their close friend committed suicide days before, and for them to then attempt a séance? Totally believable, realism count through the roof, guys.
The ‘recyclable’ element to the film hit its peak when Lin Shaye made her laughable appearance, reiterating dialogue almost exactly the same as the script in Insidious. Of course, we do have memories of goldfish, hence why we need an Insidious 12 and remakes of all the good 80’s horror.
So yeah, we’re well into 2015 and Hollywood plus many indie directors are still churning out incoherent, unoriginal horror. The only thing I have recently watched that I found interesting was gameplay of Until Dawn, as it has an element of unpredictability. Ouija seems to embody the absolute epitome of being unrealistic & predictable. This is particularly blatant through the actions of the characters, in order to come to an abrupt conclusion. Could never say I expected this film would be anything other than a regurgitation of similar modern horrors, but er, I wouldn’t recommend it. Felt completely unengaged from start to finish.