Thursday, June 9, 2016

In short: The Ouija Experiment (2011)

A bunch of idiots plays around with a Ouija board. One among their number is the obligatory film student (actor names are withheld to protect the guilty), so it’s time for some hot POV horror action. Thanks to various somewhat hilarious soap operatics, our protagonists repeatedly forget to end their séance sessions on the board with a goodbye, so ghosts good and evil are having their way with them. It’ll also turn out our protagonists have chosen a pretty bad place to contact the spirit world.

For the first two thirds of its running time, Israel Luna’s The Ouija Experiment is pretty dreadful: the script is as obvious as it is slow in getting going, the characters are annoying as hell thanks to dubious writing decisions, jokes land with the dull thud of lost souls, the best among the actors on screen could politely be described as “not very good”, and the ghosts make noises like a PlayStation 1 era video game monster. However, it’s a strangely compelling and companionable dreadfulness, with everyone in front of and behind the camera clearly giving their respective bests in a more or less enthusiastic manner. Only a tiny little budget and a lack of experience seem to be holding these people back, and I found myself somewhat charmed by the film’s honesty and a decided lack of pretension.

It sure helps that impression that Luna actually does manage to create some simple yet effective scares in the film’s final third or so. Obviously, there’s still nothing going on that’ll haunt anyone for years, but there’s enough happening in the third act to make up for some of the film’s failings. That’s more than I can say about many a microbudget horror piece. Even the dreaded final twist is pretty cool, and certainly realized well enough.

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