Maybe it’s all down to the success of The Conjuring, or perhaps the latest wave of horror filmmakers just love Mad Men, but retro supernatural chillers are becoming a sub-genre in their own right. Hot on the heels of Conjuring spin-off Annabelle comes this prequel to the generally unloved Ouija, which, as the title suggests, is an origin story about the demonic mother and sisters who wreaked havoc in the first film.
It’s 1967 and the recently widowed Alice Zander (Elisabeth Reaser) and her two daughters, cynical teenager Paulina (Annalise Basso) and her younger sister Doris (Lulu Wilson), are running séance scams to make ends meet. Paulina convinces her mother to spice up the act by using a Ouija board but they are amazed to discover that Doris doesn’t actually need any tricks to use it: she really seems able to communicate with the dead using the board. But are her conversations with her dead father and other souls she contacts real, or is a more malevolent spirit at work?
Ouija: Origin of Evil is a big improvement on the first film – admittedly that’s not saying much – with director Michael Flanagan (Occulus, Hush) delivering some effective jump shocks and young Wilson as a suitably scary possessed child. On the down side, it’s a lazily plotted affair and the ‘60s settings can’t disguise the fact that there’s little in the way of genuine scares or frights.
However, with the door left open for another prequel that potentially could be set in the ‘50s, there may well be more retro haunted house horrors to come…
In cinemas: October 20, 2016
Starring: Elisabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas
Directed by: Mike Flanagan