An evil spirit released unwittingly by a single mother who finds and decides to try a Ouija board? Baby in peril? Priest pushed out of the evil house by unseen malevolent spirits? A house that might just be haunted? Ouijageist is a collection of basic horror film tropes but, surprisingly, this modest UK indie horror film isn’t entirely bad. It’s also not entirely good either, so you’ll want to be pretty bored to allocated the 90 minutes or so for this confusing film that also feels at times like it might just be an assignment for film studies majors at the local Uni.
The film opens with a young man running down a road towards a cabin in the woods. In that cabin are a dead body and a carved wooden “Witcherboard”, the English version of what Americans call a Ouija board. He grabs the board and runs back out, intending to bury it where it can do no mischief, but… well… zoom forward to modern times, a nondescript rural village in England where likeable single mum India (Lois Wilkinson) is moving into a lovely little flat with her adorable toddler Emily (India Raqia-Walker). Nana Karen (Lesley Scoble) is just around the corner and, of course, is constantly over to visit and help with the baby.
India’s dog unearths a wooden box in the garden that turns out to be… you guessed it! The Witcherboard from the opening scene. India and her pal Becca (Gabriella Calderone) decide to give the board a whirl – which we know is a phenomenally bad idea! – but quickly sour on the idea.
Problem is, it’s too late. The evil has been released from the Ouija board and the mayhem begins!
In fact, the mayhem begins immediately, in a laughably obvious incident. This is where the lack of money for effects hints at what’s to come with the rest of the film. Fact is, I’ve seen more convincing falls in comedies from the 40’s than in Ouijageist. Still, suspension of disbelief and all that. Becca is imperiled, then baby Emily is put in a position of danger. Yes, the super cute little toddler. A horror indeed!
By the time the film ends, just about everyone who is close to India is pulled into the mayhem and chaos, injured or six feet under. With the notable exception of India herself and her delightful mum Karen. Why is Nana K. immune to all of this evil? I don’t even think that the script writers could answer that question.
To be fair to the cast and crew, there’s a fun little horror film trying to sneak out of this rather muddled mess. The production overall is quite acceptable for the genre (with one notable exception), the cast delivers up performances that are rather self-conscious but no worse than in other horror films. The story? Well, it’s certainly a comfortable tale given how many times we’ve seen it on the big screen before.
The biggest problem for me was technical, actually: The sound was really awful. Actors turned away and were suddenly off mic, dialog was at an uneven volume, and too often lines were incomprehensible. Did they lack sufficient microphones or have problems mastering the audio on the film? You’ll just want to turn the volume up to catch all of the foreshadowing, commentary and the funny asides from Father West (Laurence Saunders).
Oh, and the imagery I’ve included here? The six armed woman in the movie poster isn’t in the film itself. And the cool green/blue lighting a cave-like structure in the preview thumbnail? That’s not in the film either. Which is a bit odd, really.
So is Ouijageist worth watching for you hardcore horror film buffs? Hmm…. maybe. Maybe if you really can’t find something better or just enjoy movies that only dream of getting up to the level of a “b movie” in an genre that’s already typified by mediocre offerings. Then again, I (mostly) enjoyed it, so there’s that. 🙂
Dad at the Movies Note: It’s a daft horror film with cheesy special effects. But for a younger viewer it can still be a bit shocking, from the visual effects to the language and ominous music. Maybe a teen who loves the genre and can differentiate between cinema and reality, but probably not appropriate for younger viewers.