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Ouija: Another game-boared movie that stars boredom

Ouija, a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.

Matt Kennedy

1.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Juliet Snowden and Stiles White
Directed by
Stiles White
Starring
Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, Matthew Settle and Shelly Hennig
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

The first rule of Ouija is to not play the game on your own. The first rule of scary movies is to have characters who tempt fate by breaking perfectly sound rules.

Ouija is a modestly budgeted pre-Halloween film, from a first-time director (Stiles White) who mostly sticks to rules but is fairly unambitious. Supernatural happenings and staccato scares, basically. It is harmless, frighty fun for teenage audiences, but adults will leave theatres with their bejeebers intact.

What we have is gang of photogenic high school pals who feel the need to contact a friend of theirs who had recently committed suicide. Given the title of the movie, you shouldn't need to be told that Ouija, a seance-facilitating board game, is importantly involved. After all, one doesn't need to be Marshall McLuhan to know that the medium is the message.

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Ouija, for the uninitiated, is a board with letters, numbers and a few words, with a pointing device to determine answers from dead people. It's basically texting from the other side, and, in film, Ouija invariably spells trouble. At one point, the dead girl's best friend Elaine (Olivia Cooke) asks "Is there a presence among us?" Oh, there's a presence all right. It's Hasbro, the game-maker, which has hopes of making money in the movie business. Game-board movies haven't done so well, though: Battleship was a sinker and Clue didn't have one.

You know who else doesn't have a clue? The grown-ups in Ouija. The parents of the dead girl, understandably, want to get out of town. Outrageously, however, they ask her best friend Elaine to look after their house while they're gone. The house in which Elaine's best friend just hanged herself. Who does that?

Elaine's father isn't much better. The mother isn't around and dad cheerily takes off on a business trip, leaving Elaine and her gothy kid sister to fend for themselves. Those two kids fend well, though. Friends are dying and dead people are willy-nilly, but Elaine is remarkably composed as she attempts to close down the dark channel that had been opened. Good for her, but here's the thing: If she's not scared out of her mind, why should we be? In the end, Ouija the board game is Ouija the bored game.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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