Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

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“Spirit, can you hear me?”
– Alice Zander

SYNOPSIS: In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home. – via IMDB

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GRADE 5I must be very honest and open with the fact that I have not seen any other Ouija movies at all, but was interested in checking this out because of Mike Flanagan. I am really conflicted about his work because it can be really good, but it can also be really blandly normal, so I was interested to see where this would land.

Well, let’s start with I don’t get the high ratings this movie gets. I really, honestly don’t. The movie is a mess. Truly it is. Initially it starts and it is interesting and constructed pretty well, and it is engaging and has an interesting premise, what with a mother using her daughters to manipulate people about the great beyond. This is all good, and seems to be what you want. However, it swiftly moves in another direction, and it is not nice.

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The story is actually really weak, and the longer the movie goes on, the more terrible and soft it becomes. The movie putters along with ridiculous logic and all, but come the third act? It completely devolves. Moves from “okay” territory to “absolutely absurd”. Not a good thing, nope. Ugh, what a waste!

The performances were alright, but sometimes they were terribly unconvincing. I was pleased that the movie did not force the jump scares the whole time, and the movie was shot quite well, so it looked and sounded good. But yeah, it just falls apart. There are some decent things going for it, and then there are some major issues.

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a mixed bag all round. The story flimsy as hell, but it looks good, and is carried by performances that are alright, but not brilliant. It started with great atmosphere, then fell apart. There are worse movies to waste your time on (just look at the Chop and I soldiering through those Amityville movies), but this is not something I would highly recommend, or something I would be rushing to watch again.

Rapid Review: Before I Wake (2016)

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“I don’t like to sleep.”
– Cody

SYNOPSIS: A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. – via IMDB

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GRADE 5You know, I quite like Mike Flanagan’s work. It isn’t all phenomenal, but it is usually entertaining, and tries to be a little more than your average film. I just wish that he had been allowed to maintain the original name of this (Somnia) as it fits with his other work. Moving on to the movie itself, I thought it was okay. I was interested, at any rate. The concept was cool, but the implementation was a little messy, if we are being honest. I was pleased to see Thomas Jane here, and I thought he was the only truly rational character in the whole movie, and he was really nice. His relationship with Cody was sweet and it was heartbreaking. An aspect that I didn’t like at all, however, was their son Shawn dying in the bathtub. This was never really explained, and for a child of that age it shouldn’t have happened. I understand the family’s flashbacks of how it happened could just be in their heads, and not how it happened, but still, some clarity would have been great. It should not have peeved me so much, but so much of the movie hinges on this having happened to their family. The performances were alright, but not brilliant for the most part, but they all came through and made this a decent watch. You can definitely tell Flanagan was given a bigger budget for effects here, and it doesn’t look bad. The movie has the feeling of a dark fantasy meets horror, and it balances the two effectively, but at the end of the day, the movie feels like it didn’t go all out to deliver. There was so much untapped potential here, and ultimately the movie just felt like a rather hollow experience all round. A right mixed bag – some stuff was good, other stuff was just not.

Rapid Review: Hush (2016)

hush movie poster 2016

“I can come in anytime I want. And I can get you, anytime I want. But I’m not going to. Not until it’s time. When you wish you’re dead… that’s when I’ll come inside.”
– Man 

SYNOPSIS: A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6Well, well, well. Here we are with the latest Mike Flanagan film. You all know I was a huge fan of Absentia, and I liked Oculus just fine. I was all for his new movie, Hush, and was stoked when Netflix put it out so early by us. I was intrigued by the concept, it sounded a little different than your usual home invasion movie. For all intents and purposes, this should have been great, but it wasn’t. Not that it was bad, obviously (my score reflects this), but I just feel that some things fell flat. The biggest offended for me was the Creepy Stalker Dude losing his mask so early on. The minute it came off, he became just a man, no more, no less. This Stalker Dude is playing games with Maddie, the deaf and mute woman who resides in the isolated cabin, and there are thrills and there is some immensely flawed logic. By reading all of that, what I am essentially saying is that this movie isn’t a game changer at all. Nothing new, no change to the recipe (except for the victim being disabled, so it puts a new spin on things). Kate Siegel delivers a strong performance as Maddie, but I felt that John Gallagher Jr. was just a bit flat. He never actually terrified me, drew me in, made me wince or worry. It wasn’t a bad watch, the movie didn’t drag out (it has a runtime of 81 minutes), and keeps you entertained, but sure as heck won’t stay with you when all is said and done.

Rapid Review: Absentia (2011)

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“Don’t underestimate the attraction of oblivion… not ’til you’ve lived a little longer.”
– Tricia

SYNOPSIS: Tricia’s husband Daniel has been missing for seven years. Her younger sister Callie comes to live with her as the pressure mounts to finally declare him ‘dead in absentia.’ As Tricia sifts through the wreckage and tries to move on with her life, Callie finds herself drawn to an ominous tunnel near the house. As she begins to link it to other mysterious disappearances, it becomes clear that Daniel’s presumed death might be anything but ‘natural.’ The ancient force at work in the tunnel might have set its sights on Callie and Tricia … and Daniel might be suffering a fate far worse than death in its grasp. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8This was freaking excellent! Alright, so I read a review about it a while ago over at The IPC, and I just never got to it after that. After some extremely terrifying threats gentle nudging from the chief Chop, I figured it was time. Well, between him and Seth, they both got overly excited, and I was soon let into the fold of whyAbsentia was a phenomenally beautiful movie that had so much going on in its favour. I never suffered from one minute of boredom, and the movie progressed at a perfect pace, and definitely gets to giving you the heebie jeebies. The score was fantastic, as it was really subtle, and complemented the movie on so many levels. It never took over, it was never too loud, it was ever-present, and it worked really well. It was haunting. The film itself was well acted, and for the life of me I can’t explain it, but I thought Detective Ryan Mallory’s partner Detective Lonergan, played by Justin Gordon, was a real cutie. I loved his glasses and how he chewed his gum. It was pretty hot. Don’t judge me monkeys, I said I couldn’t explain it. I have no idea why this movie scored so low on IMDB, I thought this was one of the best laid out and chilling movies in this type of genre. I was thrilled endlessly when I did not see the Big Bad (or more like not in its entirety), because as I have said before, that is where you usually lose me in a film. Give the atmosphere! This movie definitely had tons of that. The cast worked really well together, and brought all these scenes home with a beautiful resonance that is haunting and lingers long after the movie is over. It is a slow burn, but never does the film drag. It was also shot stunningly, and was incredibly atmospheric – eerie and chilling – perfect. I also really, really liked the way they presented the “theory” scenes – all the different scenarios. If you have not seen Absentia, like myself for some unknown reason before this, don’t waste time, get to it immediately! I have no idea why it took me this long to get to it, it is well worth the watch in every sense!