Stiles White

Universal Pictures

The idea of playing with an Ouija board never seems to end well. People are accused of cheating or someone actually thinks they have made contact, and the board becomes a frightening vessel instead of a silly board game. Director Stiles White‘s Ouija attempts to dive into this mystery and show whether or not the board really is something to fear. Debbie (Shelley Hennig) seems to have a thing for Ouija boards, but when she is found dead in her home the apparent victim of suicide her best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) becomes obsessed with figuring out what really happened. When Laine finds the tattered, old Ouija board in Debbie’s room, she decides to gather their friends to play the game in Debbie’s newly-vacant house to see if they can contact Debbie for answers and hopefully closure. However the moment the group begins playing the game, things start to unravel and it becomes clear that while they are definitely getting in contact with someone, it may not be their friend. After their initial game, each member of the group starts seeing the same ominous message that was spelled out on the board, and Ouija quickly becomes a race to figure what they have unearthed before their entire group is killed off in not-so grisly fashion.

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The Possession might be the darkest movie ever made, in the most literal sense. From start to finish, the characters in this Dybbuk/exorcist horror flick don’t turn the lights on, to the point of sheer distraction. You expect such atmospherics in this genre – there’s no better way to amplify the audience’s nerves than by impairing their vision – but this movie goes so overboard that it calls attention to itself for the total lack of any form of luminescence. One suspects that the big reason for this has less to do with any sort of stylistic conceit on the part of director Ole Bornedal and more to do with the simple fact that there’s just not much to the movie beyond its brooding, tragic atmosphere. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as divorced dad Clyde, who is faced with an unfathomable test when an antique box that he’s purchased at a garage sale for daughter Em (Natasha Calis) turns the sweet young girl into a demented, evil child. It turns out that the creepy old box contains a Dybbuk, an old dispossessed Jewish spirit, which has taken up residence inside Em. From there, not wanting to live down its extraordinarily generic title, the movie goes through the familiar paces of a possession movie. Creepy moths swarm Em, who belts out vile phrases, stabs her dad with a fork and makes people suddenly, spontaneously drop dead, among other malevolent touches.

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Ouija Board

According to Variety, Platinum Dunes turned off all the lights, lit some candles and sat down with the star of its forthcoming production to choose a writer and director. The piece of wood set to headline Ouija chose two: Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. The pair recently wrote The Possession, another supernatural movie about a malevolent spirit and a wooden collectible that’s out on August 31st. They now belong to a healthy line of filmmakers who have flirted with the project. McG is on that list as well as two Lost writers. Thinking optimistically, this could still be a really fun, spooky story with an occult icon that almost all of us toyed with when we were younger. Still, with Hasbro in on the deal here, the more likely scenario is that it’ll be a movie made first and foremost as a 2-hour commercial for their product. That is, unless they’ve learned a powerful lesson from Battleship.

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knowing-review-1

Alex Proyas’ first feature since 2004 is an entertaining work of science fiction that occasionally lunges towards greatness.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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