The year was 2014, I went to take a girl on a date to see the new horror film, Ouija. It looked terrible, but it was also the only horror film in theatres and I was pretty desperate. Interestingly, after the movie I had decided that it was not terrible, it was abysmal and downright unforgivable. This wasn’t a “so bad it was funny”, It was infuriating that a multi-million-dollar company had allowed this into theatres at the same time that hundreds of independent filmmakers can’t raise a few thousand to get their shot.
By 2016, I was a little less livid with the franchise and told myself that I would give it one more chance. The result, which was Ouija: Origin of Evil, wasn’t an acceptable horror film, it wasn’t an adequate horror film, it was a damn good horror film.
Much credit is to the new director, Mike Flanagan. His first film, Oculus, was a surprise hit in 2013 and permitted him to step into the ranks of up and coming horror director. Then he released Hush which became an under the radar Netflix darling. At some point, he also directed a horror film title, Before I Wake, which went completely by unnoticed. What made him want to helm the sequel to a critical and commercial disaster is beyond anyone but we should all be grateful he did.
The film didn’t give us anything new; its goal wasn’t to try to reinvent the wheel but perfect it. Many great horror films of recent years were deemed successful because they gave us something that no one had yet endeavoured (Don’t Breathe, Paranormal Activity, It Follows, The Babadook). But a mere few have gone the opposite direction and have decided to not alter the horror-scheme, but try to grow on it and revolutionise it for a new millennium (Insidious, The Conjuring, Sinister)
This film would fit in with the latter. It really showed how simple it could be to make an effective horror film. The period setting of 1970’s Los Angeles was equipped with retro dialogue and film stock to prove it. The mixture of genres was an even cocktail: humour when needed, heartbreak throughout, and an extra dash of chills to make sure and capitalise where its predecessor had failed. Fair warning; nothing horrifies me more than creepy little girls crawling around various things that aren’t meant to be crawled on and there was no shortage of that here, so I may be a bit bias.
The end made sure to stay true to horror fashion and not try to “Disneyfy” it by packaging it with a little bow. Hopefully, this film will be the success it deserves and not only can the director stay prominent in the horror scene, but studios will realise that to make a fear-driven movie that delivers, you just need people who care about it.
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