Thursday, September 20, 2018

In short: Ouija House (2018)

Warning: I need to spoil some of the best bits!

Graduate student – we dare not ask of what – Laurie (Carly Schroeder) decides to bring a handful of friends to a supposedly haunted house in the woods her family has somewhat mysterious connections to. It’s all in the hopes of furthering her research so she can graduate, sell her thesis to a publisher who is interested in it, and make enough money to help her mother (Dee Wallace) buy back the family home she just lost. Yeah, I don’t know either, and the film’s explanation for the whole publisher business later on actually makes less sense than what I have just written. But I digress.

Laurie’s aunt Samantha (Mischa Barton) is coming too, for she is fluent in the house’s and her family’s backstory concerning a good and an evil witch cult, baby sacrifice and a bit of nudity. The plan is to hold a traditional séance in the house, but when Laurie finds a ouija board, they just use that. Surprising nobody but the characters, this turns out to be a very bad idea.

For its first half hour or so, Ben Demaree’s Ouija House has all the  hallmarks of mediocre low budget horror made in the 2010s. There are the small and tiny appearances by more or less “name” actors – besides Wallace and Barton, there are also Chris Mulkey, Tiffany Shepis and Tara Reid putting a half day of work or less in –, the boringly generic set-up, and seemingly no interest in trying to lure an audience in with atmosphere and intrigue. However, once the plot gets going, Ouija House becomes a prime example of how a film that’s really not good in a way most people would use the word becomes really rather awesome (in all senses of that word) by throwing all kinds of crazy shit at the audience while keeping a completely straight face. The film gets outright 70s/80s Italian in this regard, therefore charming me to a considerable degree.

Ouija House’s title, you see, is to be taken literally, it turns out, with the letter of a ouija board hidden away behind the titular house’s wallpaper until a possessed member of the crew (very enthusiastically played by Grace Demarco) rips the wallpaper covers off. As you may or may not imagine, there are scenes of a possessed young woman in a state of undress groping and hissing towards the letters painted on the walls, and one of the film’s dramatic highpoints sees the characters desperately trying to duct tape paper over the letters. It’s glorious. Also appearing are a young woman’s upper body (she’s wearing a bra to prove this isn’t actually an Italian film from the 80s) being used as a ouija board, an idea to which the other characters react with shrugs of “why not?”, a moebius strip road, Dee Wallace’s possessed face, and…the black guy surviving(!). It’s absurd, it’s certainly not thought through with even a bit of real world logic in mind, but damn, is Ouija House’s second half entertaining, if you like your ideas strange, and their presentation straight-faced.

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