By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The game is hardly over with the prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. A few more tales can be spelled out but just how long interest remains depends on the desire of players wanting to toy with fate.
This latest movie is better than the first (I reviewed it here) mostly because of the setting. The late 60’s was a time where plenty of geopolitical terrors were lurking about. The aspects of historical rife made it so; the ongoing Vietnam War was on the minds of some politicians, the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 began the year. The end of this decade was rife with uncertainty as the future looked grim.
People were looking for answers; some turned to spirit contact for messages in what the future may hold. Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) offered her skills as a medium (when she really had none) to give solace to those concerned about the world at large. Most of her clients wanted council because of the passing of a loved one. However, most of her séances were faked. The deception is known by her daughters Doris (effectively played with creepy finesse by Lulu Wilson), the youngest, and Paulina “Lina” (Annalise Basso), the eldest as they sometimes help mom out. However, when the Hasbro game is introduced and Alice decides to use it in her own game of deception, the supernatural forces lurking in her home are awakened!
The shocks feel more genuine (less dependent on jump scares) and the creep factor is just eerie when Doris gets possessed. Shades of The Exorcist can be seen in the action and cinematography. When this young girl begins missing Catholic school, the principal gets involved. In what he discovers is enough to challenge his faith. Perhaps the entities did not like the fact he was trying to get personal with Alice.
The terror revealed in this story comes from those skeletons in a closet being unearthed. The history of the house is revealed in better detail to set up the introductory movie from 2014, and the evil unleashed feels like a product worthy from writers looking to explore the horrors found from those practicing occult summonings. The material feels like perfect World War II mysticism at work. The Nazi connection is minuscule and I wanted to hear more detail about the crazed doctors who practiced then.
The horrors revealed brings to mind the terror H. H. Holmes struck in the late 19th century in Chicago. In this film’s case, the tale is set in Los Angeles. Multiple killings took place at Murder Castle and although the investigation showed no connections to the occult, the fact the building was strangely built much like the Winchester House does require thought. In this film, the eerie existence of a furnace and a hidden room suggests some thoughtful references to the castle by original writer and director Stiles White. The ideas were mildly expanded upon by Mike Flanagan (who also directed) and Jeff Howard.
When considering how this film ended, room exists for more tales to reveal Lina’s madness getting progressively worse in between the two movies. Or perhaps, a sequel will be made. However, do fans want another Paranormal Activity fiasco? (no, 3D does not help put a finish to any saga) This possible franchise is one best left for the planchette saying no for a continuation to.
3½ Stars out of 5