Thursday, April 6, 2017


Welcome to another installment of SIDE BY SIDE, where we dissect the differences and similarities between two films, be it a remake/reboot with its original, a sequel with its original, or two similar movies. This week we will be comparing the lackluster horror film, OUIJA, with its much superior prequel, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL.  Enjoy!

For a very long time, horror has been my genre of choice, and I'll be honest, I can be a sucker at times for some pretty bad horror flicks.  But even I have limits.  Films like Devil's Due, Annabelle, Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (2010), Cursed, and the first Ouija film, all surpassed that limit.  These are horror films where I just couldn't overlook the bad, which prevented me from experiencing any real enjoyment while watching them.

Like most of these films, Ouija had the potential to be something great.  But the filmmaker and the studio seemed too interested in pandering to today's youth that they forgot how to make a decent film.  From bad performances, poorly timed "scares", and a predictable plot, Ouija failed to live up to its potential, which, unfortunately, tainted the sequel for many.

The first Ouija tells the story of a group of friends who, after messing around with a Ouija board to try to communicate with their dead friend, find themselves the target of some sinister forces.  First off, this is one of the oldest horror plots out there.  Dumb kids do a dumb thing and pay the price for it.  None of these kids seem to understand the Ouija board or the fact that opening yourself up to the other side can be dangerous.  They have no cares about it, until it's too late that is.  The thing I like about the sequel is that even though the Ouija board is something new during the film's time frame, the mother is cautious after weird things begin happening.

Now, let's talk a bit about the first film.  One of the things I mentioned earlier was the abundance of poorly timed "scares", and this takes place right from the get go.  The very first death was extremely predictable.  I knew exactly how it was going to take place due to it being spoon fed to me like I was an idiot.  And the intended jump scare, which I've seen work beautifully in other films, including Ouija: Origin of Evil, in which it was done far better, just fell flat and didn't even make me flinch in the slightest.

Then there's a scene where the main character goes biking in this creepy looking tunnel, and it looks like it's trying to build some tension toward something....but then nothing actually happens.  It was so out of place and made no sense to me.  It was just a poor way to try to build tension, something the second film had no problem doing.  Just check out the bed sheet scene to see what I mean.  Director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) took everything that was bad about the first film and made sure to improve on it exponentially.

One of the other things that really bothered me were the seemingly unlimited rules of possession in the film.  It was all over the place.  I wish it had been explained better in some way, as I had a hard time buying into what was happening.

There were also a couple overused horror tropes in this film that I could've done without, including an evil spirit not actually being the evil spirit they thought it was, and an old woman who just seems to know how all of this stuff works and knows just what to do.

I could go on and on, but I'd really like to get to better film of the two.  Ouija: Origin of Evil is a superior film in every single way.  As I said, it takes the elements of the first and vastly improves upon them in a way only a great horror director like Mike Flanagan can do.  Right from the beginning, this film had me hooked.  From the retro looking Universal Studios card and title card, to the cigarette burn cue marks added in every 20 minutes or so, Flanagan made sure to give this film that 60's feel, which fit perfectly for this movie.

Going in to this film, I knew it was supposed to be a prequel, but I was under the impression that it was really just a loose prequel that didn't tie too closely to the original, and boy was I wrong.  This is a true prequel that showed the events leading into the first film, and it actually worked for me.  There were a couple things that felt a little shoehorned to fit the previous narrative, but nothing too egregious.  There's even a post credit tag that ties directly in to the first film, which I thought was an alright tie in, but as I said, felt a bit shoehorned in.

I enjoyed the more adult centered story in this film, which gave us superior performances and a much more well-written script.  Even the costuming, sets, and music were perfectly done to fit the setting of the late 60's.  And speaking of performances, Lulu Wilson was creepy as hell!

I would definitely recommend checking out , but go ahead and pass on the first film.  You actually don't need to have seen it to follow along perfectly with the prequel.  So, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Hopefully you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

The Merc's Scores:

Ouija - 3.5/10
Ouija: Origin of Evil - 8/10

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