A Two-Fer With The Mystifying Oracle : “The Ouija Experiment”

Posted: November 23, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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In recent weeks, Ouija : Origin Of Evil has meet with a surprisingly positive critical and commercial reception, but you know how we do things here at TFG : why review the “real thing” when low-budget alternatives are available? To that end, I plunked myself down in front of Netflix the other night and watched writer/director Israel Luna’s 2011 “found footage” horror The Ouija Experiment, as well as its sequel (which we’ll get to in our next write-up), just to say I did my part to support the current Ouija craze without putting a dime in Hollywood’s pocket. As it turns out, though, I shouldn’t have wasted my time.

Cranked out for the paltry sum of $1,200, Luna’s flick is the sort of thing I probably should have enjoyed just to maintain my reputation as a connoisseur of zero-budget filmmaking, but try as I might — and believe me, I tried pretty damn hard — I simply couldn’t find any saving graces hidden anywhere in this pile of derivative, stupid schlock. By the time it was done the only positive I could extract from the experience was the knowledge that at least I didn’t waste my time or money renting — much less buying — this thing on Blu-ray or DVD (although it is available in both formats, if you absolutely must ignore my advice), but when that’s all a movie has going for it, well, that’s less than nothing, isn’t it?

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Our plot particulars are as follows : college-age self-absorbed nitwits Shay (played by Belmarie Huynh), Brandon (Carson Underwood), Calvin (Eric Window), and LyNette (Swisyzinna — who’s nowhere near talented or famous enough to be a “one-named” performer, but whatever) are headed to their friend Michael (Justin Armstrong)’s house for your standard-issue evening of debauchery and scrying. The house has a bit of a history in that a brutal crime was purportedly committed there back in 1976 (with the ostensibly “guilty” party being convicted based on the fact that he left DNA at the scene — not that they had the ability to test for such things back then), and of course they’re gonna commit whatever happens to video just in case it’s actually interesting.

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And it does, of course, what follows is just a series of shop-worn horror cliches that were already well beyond their sell-by date 20 years ago. Cue strange noises. Fleeting images moving quickly into and out of frame. Shit happening to make characters jump. And the restless spirit of a little girl (Leah Diaz) at the center of the entire “mystery.” You’ve seen it all before more times than you can count, and you’ve seen it done by folks who can actually act, which is something no one in this film can do.

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Luna tries to jazz things up with some pointless, hackneyed interpersonal drama between members of his principal cast, but they’re all so relentlessly shallow and one-dimensional (if that), you’ll honestly find yourself hard-pressed to give a flying fuck about any of them — a problem that escalates from being persistent and annoying to downright unforgivable when the time comes for them to start either living or dying. Despite his obvious (over-) familiarity with genre tropes, our lower-than-low rent director simply can’t figure out a way to make you care in the least about what he’s serving up here, and if you can sustain any level of interest whatsoever in this utter shit beyond, say, the 20-minute mark, then congratulations — you’re doing a lot better than I did.

Sill, The Ouija Experiment obviously made a profit — not a difficult thing to do given its budget — and four years later came back for round two. We’ll delve into that next, but fair warning : if you’re expecting this “franchise” (a term I use very loosely) to make some kind of miraculous turnaround, don’t hold your breath.

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

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