Release Date: October 21, 2016
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Cast: Lin Shaye, Doug Jones, Annalise Basso, Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Alexis G. Zall, Lulu Wilson, Sam Anderson, Parker Mack, Ele Keats, Lincoln Melcher, Eve Gordon, Michael Weaver, Chelsea Gonzalez, Sierra Davey, Rebecca Zahler, Halle Charlton, Nicholas Keenan, Bob Gebert, Gary Patrick Anderson, Chad Heffelfinger
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 99 minutes
Production Company: Allspark Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Hasbro, Platinum Dunes, Universal Pictures
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Budget: $6,000,000 (estimated)
It’s puzzling to imagine what went on in the mind of the creator of this particular board game. Were they just sitting around one day and said, “Hey, I’m going to make a game that summons demons,” or was it some personal experience that motivated them to do so? Maybe that’s just a great idea for a story, but we all know this game is real and has been for quite some time. Since It’s popular to know the origin of every creation, director Mike Flanagan (Oculus) decided to dive right in with these demonic forces. Not being a horror fan, my expectations were low, and I wish they were lower. Usually within a film the director/writer/studio can get at least one element right, but not this time. All the characters are idiotic, the story is too convenient, and the attempted scares made you look at your watch in anticipation of the film ending.
For the first few seconds you get a subtitle revealing the time and location of the events, and you’re thrown into the world in the 60’s. Without any lingering opening credits, the film gets right to it, giving you an opportunity to get to know the family. For a horrific thriller, the audience is supposed to latch on to the characters and feel sorry for them later on when they’re in peril. Though the writing doesn’t give you a reason to in the slightest. Instead of it being a loving family with problems, that lost a love one years ago, you’re stuck with a gang of con-artists who take advantage of weaker minded individuals. What makes matters worse is the mother is the ring leader teaching her teenage daughter and nine-year-old how to scam people. The little girl Doris (Lulu Wilson) is so dense, she doesn’t even know what the word scam means. Besides that, her acting was atrocious and not realistic of an average child.
On a positive note, there were a couple of funny chuckles between small characters that kept you on board early on, but then the next failure was the attempt to create tension. The film did this by catering to Doris to freak the audience out. It didn’t work. Instead of being afraid that Doris will harm you, you’re annoyed and asking yourself, “What the hell is she doing and why is no one addressing it enough?” The only redeeming quality about the mother is she cares about the well-being of her daughters, and we are shown this through a young boy Mikey (Parker Mack) from the older daughter, Paulina (Lin Shaye), school trying to court her. Then things continue to go downhill further and further.
Early on in the film, as the characters are discovering the Ouija game, there are three simple rules to follow. Every character broke at least two of the rules multiple times, and there were no consequences for it. Which could’ve been another great point to thicken the plot but was wasted. As you can imagine certain characters get possessed during this film, and when they bring it to the forefront it’s ignored. Doris’ character asked another character, “Hey, do you know what it feels like to be strangled to death?” Then she gives a vivid, thorough, detailed description of the whole event. What does the other character do? Not a damn thing. He just pretends this is normal dialogue from a nine-year-old girl and goes about his business. Then he decides to come back the next day as if nothing happened. No one in their right mind would do this, but for some reason these characters do.
The demon(s) presented themselves too early in the film. Instead of it being a mystery and not knowing what they entail, they seemed like lost souls in black that were bored and wanted to bother you while you are sleeping. The best portion of horror came from Doris towards the end, but it was all over the place and did not make any sense. Also, during this time of the film, one character always comes in with all the answers telling secrets and truths it would be impossible for them to know. It’s just too convenient to make any logical sense. A family moves into a house, randomly obtains a board to activate spirts, and another random stranger they happened to meet has all the answers. I’ll pass! And what’s crazy is I made most of that up, because the film didn’t do a good job explaining what was going on or the reason for it all. Just dead people years ago, and now they’re upset. After the film the audience discussed how illogical things were, and how the film did not make any sense. There was zero consistency to what the demons could or couldn’t do, and when they were doing something you didn’t know what they were doing or even when they stopped or started. It was as if the script was writing itself as they were filming.
This film is garbage in every sense of the word. The choices some of the characters made is beyond ridiculous and is a poor excuse for filmmaking. It’s so frustrating to know higher ups in Hollywood are paid to make this type of crap. Even being nice it’s hard to say something else positive about this film. The mother is an enabling con artist, Doris is a little brat, and the only character you did like turns into a mindless puppet towards the end. There are no scary moments, just bad makeup and cheap sound effects to give you the illusion danger is coming. There is no danger. Just a bunch of idiots without a clue making things up as they go.