Directed by Stiles White and produced by Jason Blum, the supernatural horror film "Ouija" was released in 2014. Based on the well-known game, the film makes an effort to portray the strange world of the Ouija board realistically. However, "Ouija" still provides a reasonably eerie experience thanks to its atmospheric setting and a few terrifying moments while falling into some classic genre tropes.
After one of them dies under inexplicable circumstances, a group of friends resolves to investigate the sinister past of a haunted Ouija board. Laine (Olivia Cooke), the protagonist, and her friends try to make contact with the afterlife to get some answers and find some peace. Unaware that they are unlocking the secrets of the Ouija board, a malicious ghost begins to terrorize them one by one.
The plot of "Ouija" is simple and follows the standard template for horror films. A cautionary story about the perils of conjuring spirits, it delves into the results of tampering with the supernatural. Despite their overuse of cliches, the characters are well enough fleshed out to keep the reader interested in their quest for resolution. Olivia Cooke's portrayal of the resilient yet sensitive Laine gives the picture a more human center and makes her an engaging heroine.
The film's use of atmosphere and camerawork to establish an ominous tone is one of its strengths. The low lighting levels, creaking doors, and spooky music create a pervading feeling of dread. The visual effects, particularly those used in the film's supernatural scenes, are impressive.
The "jump scares" in "Ouija" are few and far between, but they are effective when they occur. The film focuses primarily on raising suspense and ominousness. It takes a systematic approach, building tension slowly as the protagonists learn the horrific truth about the Ouija board. A few scenes are so terrifying they will give you chills down your spine.
Unfortunately, "Ouija" repeats several tired tropes from other horror films. Some of the events are too obvious, and the characters' intelligence and credibility are called into doubt by their choices. Despite its problems, the picture keeps the viewer on edge throughout.
Storywise, "Ouija" progresses uniformly and reliably throughout. Some parts of the plot and the development of some characters felt hurried, though. While the film's ending isn't entirely unexpected, it does provide a satisfying resolution while throwing in a few surprises. The conclusion achieves a happy medium between resolution and openness to further thought.
While "Ouija" doesn't do anything particularly groundbreaking in the horror genre, it nonetheless is quite unsettling. Supernatural horror enthusiasts will enjoy this film for several reasons, including its atmospheric setting, excellent photography, and well-timed scares. The film maintains a sense of dread and delivers a few genuinely frightening sequences despite some predictable moments and reliance on established clichés. If you're looking for a scary journey into the afterlife, "Ouija" is a solid addition to the genre and worth your time.