Monday, May 1, 2017

Phil's Horror Watch: OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016) from Universal Pictures - May 1, 2017

Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas
Written by Mike Flanagan Jeff Howard
Based on characters created by Juliet Snowden & Stiles White
Cinematography by Michael Fimognari
Edited by Mike Flanagan
Produced by Michael Bay, Jason Blum, Stephen Davis, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Brian Goldner
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Production Companies: Hasbro Studios, Platinum Dunes, Allspark Pictures, Blumhouse Productions
Released by Universal Pictures

I'm going to be straight up honest with you my faithful readers: I didn't really care for the 2014 film OUIJA. I found it predicable, tedious and, quite frankly, not very scary at all. The only thing that was scary was the $12 bucks I paid to see this clunker! So I was very shocked and surprised when Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures were teaming up again to make a sequel. But then the story changed. Now it was going to be a prequel, set in Los Angeles 1967. OK, that sounds kinda interesting. But when they announced that Mike Flanagan, the man behind the films ABSENTIA, OCULUS and the fan favorite HUSH, my ears perked up and now I was very much interested! The end result is that OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL surpassed beyond my expectations and blows the first film away.

The film's official synopsis: It was never just a game. Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL tells a terrifying new tale as the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit that opened at number one. In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.

Original Theatrical Poster (2016)
Director Mike Flanagan is one of the most talented filmmakers within the genre as of today. He first burst onto the scene with the indie fright film ABSENTIA in 2011. But it was his next film, the creepy 2013 OCULUS that really put him on the map. The film became a huge hit and signaled that there was a new voice in the horror world. Then in 2016, he had three movies coming out: the slasher thriller HUSH, the supernatural fantasy horror film BEFORE I AWAKE and then finally today's movie. Flanagan has such a clear and distinctive vision that it deserves the acclaim his movies have been receiving. Also, he not only directs, but he also co-writes his films and edits them as well. How many other filmmakers can you name that is this involved in their work. Hands down, this man is one of my favorite new directors!

Actresses Elizabeth Reaser (Alice Zander), Annalise Basso (Lina Zander) and Lulu Wilson (Doris Zander) have amazing on-screen chemistry with one another. The family dynamic is funny and feels so realistic. All three ladies bring add so much depth to their respective characters that it's truly outstanding! Special shout outs to both Basso and Wilson, who go above and above the call of duty. Their performances are exceptionally scary and freaking incredible. When little Lulu plays with the Ouija board and then becomes processed, she becomes one of the most scariest kids ever captured on film! Yeah, she's that creepy! And then poor Lina, who unfortunately ends up on the losing end of it all. Oh, by the way, sit through the credits because there is a bonus scene that ties this film to the original and it's amazing!

OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL is one of the best Hollywood horror films to come out in a very long time! It's scary, it's relentless, it's sole purpose is to both entertain you while scaring the shit out of you!! And this movie accomplishes both in spades!! If you're looking for an excellent horror film to watch tonight, then you should definitely watch this one tonight!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL available on both Blu-Ray and DVD at your local retailer. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!