By Shane M. Dallmann
Don’t get me wrong–I’m quite glad there are wunderkinds out there who’ve perfected the formula for drawing huge profits with low-budget would-be-franchise horror films. That means we get more horror movies on the big screen, and that’s still my “scene” as such. And I’ll keep turning out to see them because I might score with something like SINISTER or OCULUS, I might get something provocative like THE PURGE, or I might even get a good-despite-every-reason-it-ought-not-to-be surprise like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: TMO.
Then again, I might get DEVIL’S DUE. Or I might get OUIJA. Which is not a remake of WITCHBOARD, for the record.
See, as little girls, Laine and Debbie played with a Ouija board while angrily ordering Laine’s snoopy little sister Sarah out of the room.
There are rules for these things. You must never play alone, you must always say goodbye, and you must never feed the board after midnight.
Debbie played with the board by herself (and darn it, she probably forgot to say goodbye, too!) so she’s toast. Laine (Olivia Cooke from THE QUIET ONES, which, while less than perfect, was far more imaginative than this) figures the board has something to do with this, so she drags her friends and sister (Ana Coto is supposed to be the “little” sister, but the actresses scarcely seem a year apart) over to Debbie’s to play with the Ouija. And the circle gradually dwindles.
And there’s a Hispanic housekeeper who warns Laine “never, never, mustn’t touch.” And there’s a history behind the house. And there are newspaper archives to look up. And there’s a mental institution to visit so Laine can talk to an old lady who was around for the original sinister events in the 50s.
Oh, for the love of heaven, MUST I go on? It’s not that it’s formula. Other films take formula and make it their own, rocking the house in the process. This one just CRANKS the volume for a huge BANG or something every five minutes or so, while sometimes the false-scare characters react in time with the sound effect and sometimes completely fail to do so. Debbie’s oven burner turns on by itself in the early going with a BANG like a gunshot. There’s a BANG before some guy even sees something in a mirror. BANG. The cart moved. BANG. Someone peeked around a corner. BANG. Someone got grabbed by the ankles and dragged away screaming. TWICE. BANG-BANG.
Anything original like “Hey, police, we solved a missing-persons case from the 1950s and found a mummy in the attic… wanna get involved?” No. Nothing like that. Just more BANG. BANG. BANG.
And when you’ve got a trailer for INSIDIOUS III preceding this and the trailer has already used the BANG twice (sorry… BANG BANG), exactly how long do you expect this device to remain effective? (Oh, speaking of trailers, the one for OUIJA contained material not found in the actual film, if you’re interested.)
I already explained why I went to see OUIJA. Is there any reason for YOU to see it?
Not a bit of it.