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Ouija: Origin of Evil (4 stars)

Superior, emotionally credible prequel to the 2014 horror, from Oculus director Mike Flanagan

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Ouija: Origin of Evil

The prospect of a follow-up to 2014's terrible Ouija was not something that soared the spirits, but thanks to Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard (the team behind Oculus) this prequel is elevated to a higher place. Set in the LA of 1967, the attention to detail is impressive and the strong cast deliver on the emotional side of the story. Flanagan skilfully summons up a creepy atmosphere by inserting startling apparitions to the side of the screen, or in dark spaces at the back of the frame, so you only briefly catch them out of the corner of your eye.

The Zander family are still grief-stricken after the passing of husband and father Roger. Mum Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) has been keeping the household afloat with her fortune-telling business. It's a scam the entire clan are in on, including her teenage daughter Paulina (Annalise Basso) and her younger sibling Doris (Lulu Wilson). When Alice brings home a Ouija board to add to their bag of tricks, Doris starts acting strange and shows a new ability to contact the deceased. Henry Thomas appears as the kindly Father Tom, and he's such a warming presence that it's extremely difficult to watch when he gets hurt in the chaos.

Wilson turns in a memorable and sinister performance as Doris, who is not at all phased by her new powers. In fact, she gleefully roams the house unafraid to interact with the dead and telling wickedly gruesome yarns to her sister's boyfriend to freak him out. It's so entertaining you almost don't want the inevitably nasty stuff to kick in. Flanagan and his co-screenwriter Howard relish in the telling of campfire stories, positioning their characters in a circle and focusing in on reactions as they listen to the terrifying tales. Towards the end, the film does fling everything it possibly can at you – which doesn't work in its favour, especially when it comes to tying it all into the previous film – but, for the most part, this horror is dead good.

General release from Fri 21 Oct.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 99 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Mike Flanagan
  • Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, Annalise Basso, Henry Thomas
  • UK release: 21 October 2016

The Zander family, which runs a seance scam, unwittingly invites an evil spirit into their home and it possesses their youngest daughter. Skilful, creepy and vastly superior prequel to 2014's terrible original, with a strong cast delivering the emotional weight; the youngest member, Wilson, is memorable and sinister as…

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