By True McManis
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
“Ouija: Origin of Evil” is a recent horror film that despite the series’ history actually delivers.
Directed by Mike Flanagan, “Origin of Evil” serves as a prequel to the 2014 movie, “Ouija,” which received mainly negative reviews due to its overall quality.
“Origin of Evil” tells the story of a family that runs a fake séance at their home where they scam people by pretending to communicate with the dead to make a quick buck. After experimenting with the Ouija board, however, things quickly start to get strange.
Even with a clichéd plot, “Origin of Evil” was actually well-done. The film is an incredibly refreshing horror film because rather than going for cheap jump scares throughout the movie, Flanagan decided to go for a sense of dread.
There were numerous times when everything was set up perfectly for a great jump scare, only for the director to prolong the scene and leave the audience waiting on the edge of their seats. This tension steadily built and resulted in legitimate chills rather than taking the easy road with pop-outs or jump scares. Even towards the last act of the film, when the tension culminates into a series of terrifying scenes, jump scares were used sparingly and to great effect.
Throughout the movie, the high-quality audio was used to great effect. Rather than build up to a crescendo of noise to signal the audience that something scary is happening or about to happen, Flanagan just showed whatever terrifying event is occurring.
The acting was another surprising aspect of this movie, as child actors are often more of a detriment to movies than a positive. Lulu Wilson, the young actress playing Doris, is incredibly creepy and does a great job in her role no matter what she is doing. One of the best things about this film is how well it uses these actors to establish and flesh out the characters. Once you start to feel bad because of the situation the characters are in, it becomes a lot scarier and their reactions feel a lot more realistic.
The lighting in the movie is one of the largest complaints I have for it. While it is obvious they were going for a ‘60s feel to it, lighting seemed so oversaturated at times and there were a few scenes with next to no lighting visible that ended up feeling too bright, almost like an editor arbitrarily decided to just slap a filter over the whole movie and call it retro. Another complaint was the mediocre CGI used throughout the movie, making the film feel noticeably more modern and not in a good way.
Flanagan is largely responsible for why a movie with such a generic plot actually achieves as much as it does. Flanagan may be a familiar name to horror fans, as he’s previously directed both “Oculus” and “Hush,” both of which contained the chills present in “Origin of Evil” with considerably more creativity.
Flanagan paid attention to small details that will definitely go unnoticed for many but definitely helped sell me on the film. Despite this movie being digital, cigarette burns are briefly present in the top right corner of the film for numerous scenes, calling back to when projectionists would use them to signal when to change a film reel. Such small details — just like the dated Universal logo in the opening credits — helped the film feel vintage.
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