In Ouija, a group of friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. Stiles White directs the supernatural thriller that is produced by Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (The Purge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th) alongside Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity and Insidious series, The Purge), Bennett Schneir (Battleship) and Hasbro. (c) Universal
Ever since I was younger the concept of Ouija boards have fascinated me. Like a lot of people the conceit that a kid’s game can talk to the dead was just captivating. Even more so were the random stories you would find online. No matter how questionable the believability tales of possession and objects being thrown around kept me glued to my seat. Which brings up the question, why couldn’t a full-fledged movie capture any of this?
What we get instead is a very bland, very predictable supernatural movie. I felt like I was able to call what cheap scare would come up next. The one good thing, the sewn mouth gimmick, was shown in every trailer and commercial so that was ruined. Everything else consisted of your typical “Shock they appear out of nowhere” scares. Like all of them. The other major flaw was how non-existent the deaths felt. While there’s one at the beginning that’s actually pretty effective the rest are either miss the mark or not even shown. I understand this isn’t going to be Saw style violence nor should there be. But to simply cut away and never mention a character died afterwards just feels like poor writing.
If there is a positive it’s that I thought the build up to the scares was decent before they fizzled out. We also got another fun performance from genre veteran (and I assume resident of the Blumhouse offices) Lin Shaye. While fun these don’t change the fact that this is just a bad movie for the most part. I would joke at least it isn’t Annabelle bad but that really shouldn’t be the standard for Blumhouse movies.
Rec 4: Apocalypse
Angela Vidal wakes up in a high-security quarantine facility, sole survivor and witness to the horrific events inside the building. But does she remember what happened to her? Is she carrying the virus? Distrust spreads through the isolated facility while new, even more deadly forms of evil spread even faster. (C) Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing
Things change for a horror series when it becomes a full-fledged franchise. Usually the go-to move is to up-the-ante with everything. While it can work (see the 421 Friday the 13th movies) it usually ends up boring like the Saw series. The Rec series went a different route than most horror movies though. In 2012’s Rec 3 the series ditched the found footage conceit and had a more comedic tone. While I enjoyed the change the results were mixed for most other critics. In the fourth and final installment they go for a more action-oriented tone. Does it work out? Well… let’s get to the review.
We pick up right after Rec 2 with a rescue team finding reporter Angela Vidal. This leads to the first great thing about this movie, the return of Manuela Velasco. I’m sure it’s just me being a sucker for continuity but her addition helps add legitimacy that the last movie lacked. That said they didn’t neglect Rec 3 completely. While a relatively minor character bringing in the grandmother from the last movie just is the kind of attention to detail that is perfect for a final installment. Thankfully the positives aren’t purely nostalgia based. The practical effects are the best they’ve ever been. Some of the infected, especially the first one, look absolutely gnarly. As far as surface details the movie should have worked out. Most importantly I think the movie’s more actiony tone worked quite well. While no longer all that scary we got some exciting, tension filled action scenes. Sure it wasn’t The Raid or Avengers but for what it was I enjoyed it.
The problems with the movie arise when you look beyond the surface stuff though. The biggest flaw was some CGI. While I can accept some cheesy looking green screen they have some CGI monkeys (yes monkeys) that look absolutely awful. Quite frankly it looked like Jumanji in Hell. The other major issue was the fact that the movie took place on a ship. While it makes sense from a plot stand point for a final entry in a series it’s pretty disappointing. There are so many other locations you could use to could have gone with and they could
have been great. Instead we have this dreary ocean liner that always looks the same. It just doesn’t have the kind of oomph you want a series to go out on.
Of all things this reminds me of the Resident Evil series of games. Starting as a survival horror series and it was great. However over time it evolved into a straight up action game that happened to feature zombies. It was a change that most people hated and with good reason. It was no longer the game it used to be and it bothered a lot of fans and I totally understood. Not only was it different but it changed the gameplay, growing pains and all. Yet I still enjoyed Resident Evil 6. While it wasn’t as good as the original games I found them to be fun for what they were. That’s what Rec 4 is to me. Sure there are issues that would definitely turn off the purists. But for what it is I had a blast. It’s just a shame that the Rec series couldn’t go out with more of a bang.