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October 30, 2014

Ouija (**) PG-13

The Ouija Board was first manufactured in 1890 and supposedly can be used as a conduit of sorts to the spiritual world. At one point, a writer even claimed to have had a novel dictated by the Ouija Board, courtesy of the spiritual participation of deceased author Mark Twain.

Ever since the release of The Exorcist in 1973, the infamous board has been a part of the public’s consciousness, eliciting feelings of fear and dread in many over the subsequent decades since the release of that film. You would think that given the subject matter and the hullabaloo regarding the Ouija Board that it would be a ripe one for the plucking in terms of great horror film material. Unfortunately, Ouija isn’t that film. It’s about as scary as your old drunken uncle at the annual family Christmas gathering and even less interesting.

Quite frankly, I was suspicious of Ouija from the moment I took note that famed director Michael Bay’s production company, Platinum Dunes, was behind the film.

Shelley Hennig in Ouija

A company that consistently churns out horror films, most of them lame remakes that no one was asking for in the first place, it’s no surprise how rare genuine scares are to be found in Platinum Dunes’ product. Some of the less than stellar titles the company has been involved with include remakes of The Amityville Horror, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hitcher, which should go a long way in alerting you to what you’ll be getting yourself into should you venture out to see Ouija. It contains about as many scares as any of those films, which is to say not many.

The plot of Ouija, such as it is, involves high school kid, Debbie (Shelley Hennig) seemingly becoming possessed by the Ouija Board’s spirit after finding the thing in an attic, and subsequently hanging herself. It’s then up to best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) to solve the mystery of her bestie’s death/suicide and she enlists her sister and several friends of the male variety to do just that. The mystery here is akin to what you would find on a Saturday morning episode of The Scooby Doo Mysteries back in the early 1970s and takes forever to reach its destination. In fact, I timed the first attempt at a scare in the film at the 55 minute mark, an eternity when compared to other, better plotted shock fests.

Ouija is just the latest example of filmmakers attempting to build a film around the fear of some fright-related object without taking the time to build a credible or interesting story. The bottom line here is that Ouija is billing itself as a horror film and as such, the paying audience deserves to be scared. Unfortunately, the scares are in short supply and that’s the simple, irrefutable fact that anyone venturing out to see Ouija should know.

Ouija is playing at the Carmike in Hickory, and other area theaters.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at




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