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‘Ouija’ not a perfect scare fest, but will do

October 30, 2014
By Tony Rutherford ( , Graffiti

Don't play alone with a ouija board.

Warnings abound about using the "game" that may open conduits to the spirit world. One could make movie after movie about urban legends that have arisen from adverse consequences from playing with a board to contact the dead. Hard to believe, it is just a board game - NOT!

A long time in production, this PG-13 rated "Ouija" has a group of mostly high school gals contacting spooks to soothe their guilts. Debbie (Shelley Hennig) and Laine (Olivia Cooke), lifelong best friends, have played with the board. When Deb takes her life, Laine can't get over the loss. She persuades Deb's boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith), her own BF Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and hang out pal Isabelle (Bianca Santos) to return to the house of Debbie's demise and attempt to learn unanswered questions from her spirit. Most reluctantly agree (the first time) then curious obsession keeps them going back to the board.

Immediately, they assume their seance has contacted Debbie's spirit and besiege "it" with unknowns related to "what happened," expecting to bring closure for the survivors. The paranormal activities have been seen previously. The doors slamming, objects falling, gas stove lighting and lights out scenes dig up a startle or two.

Here's one flick where I'd like to learn more about those hanging out together. Aside from sister Sarah's parental rebellion, they are attractive young faces messing around a house where a death happened. For cut-a-ways, they meet up at lockers or when changing classes where Laine twists arms for "one more" visit with the board. When circumstances (bodies) mount, there's no empathy from either the actors or the audience. It's like, OK, pull another scare card from the bag of tricks.

That's the curse of "Ouija." You've seen these cards and tricks previously, they are just juggled in a different pattern. After laying a moderately promising foundation, the supernatural comes at you like the director tossed everything in his plate at once. After a paced sense of mounting the infested structure's history, the best creeps come one after another. We need some time to absorb what happened. Maybe then someone would scream.

Imperfect as it is, "Ouija" has the reminders of "Paranormal Activity," "Insidious," and all the best new horror franchises (ugly doll too!). This seemingly rushed flick could stand more running time spent directly fighting demonic presence. And hormones stay stagnant, too - doesn't anyone hug, cry or kiss anymore before putting their young lives at risk?



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