Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Ouija: Origin of Evil

of 7 viewers "Liked" "Ouija: Origin of Evil" (2016, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "Truthfully, I was going to skip this installment not having seen the last one, but then I read about the Oculus director being at the helm. I happened to be on vacation in a picaresque burb in Napa when I went to see Ouija: Origin of Evil, which turned out to be the perfect place to enjoy this suburban tale of malicious spiritual woe. First it must be said that as a film that is trying to scare you, Ouija was quite effective. I personally have no belief in spirits of any kind, but scenes where tension turned to terror had me gritting my guns at times, and while this movie has no new conceptions to offer the possession narrative, I was nonetheless unnerved. What IS new and exciting is that, for (No?) apparent reason other than to make me happy, Origin of Evil happens to be a splendidly well-done period piece, and furthermore one with a genuinely endearing family that feels firmly rooted in said period. As a man enamored with history and period pieces in general, it was exciting to discover the films 70's color palette and almost sfumato texture. The dreamy suburb world is of course still stylized cinema, but unlike most period pieces the sets don't grab you and scream "I am from another time!", but rather allow one to luxuriate the era almost unwittingly. Of course, none of this would matter if the lead performances didn't sell you on the world from frame one. Mike Flanagan seems to have a penchant for casting talented redheads, because the emotional dynamic between this woman and her two daughters give their predicament and poignant urgency reminiscent this films cinematic mother (of which this title pays a sweet little homage to). To sum, this is a well done horror movie wrapped up in gorgeous period drama, and probably would have been given the full five if some new ideas would have been included." - 4 Stars

Math Mage - "Ouija 2 is an excellent modern horror movie despite being set in the 60's. A little girl managing to not be annoying, a not useless priest, and thankfully brief instances of "it can't be a ghost!". I'm especially happy with the ghost's weakness, since it always seemed like vengeful spirits should be weak to the things that killed them." - 3.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Oculus, Hush, and Before I Wake all have one thing in common, Mike Flanagan. Flanagan has shown he seems to be able to deliver a great horror film and Ouija: Origin of Evil is no exception. From acting, pacing and scares, this retro style prequel surpasses the original by a landslide. The characters are developed nicely and authentically. The standout for sure is Lulu Wilson who plays 11 year old Doris; she basically carried the film to its conclusion and is genuinely creepy. After watching 2014's Ouija, most would expect this prequel to fall flat. I went in with low expectations and was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Overall if you're looking for a fresh new horror film especially around this Halloween season, this is the one for you." - 4.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt used to house my all time favorite monologue until I saw the unbelievably monologue that's delivered by 11 year-old Lulu Wilson (which I've included below in lieu of a trailer). Ouija: Origins of Evil is a prequel that injects not only style and character into a series that was otherwise considered "phoned-in" but also stuck loyally to the board game's mythology. Mike Flanagan really turned this Hasbro marketing campaign into a real horror film." - 4.5 Stars

Dabbles - "I really hate stories about ghosts or even things that conjure ghosts, but the way this film was shot and directed all squared up right to a T. The emotion the characters conveyed really added to the story, and the little girl is awesome. The trailers made me think this movie would be in the same likes as The Darkness ( which in my eyes really sucked) but Ouija: Origin of Evil definitely proved me wrong. Although there were some very minimal things I could have done without, the director's use of simple camera techniques went a long way with conveying suspense. All in all, by the end I was emotionally invested and cared about what happened to the family. This one really hit the right cords." - 5 Stars

Clark Little - "Tired and stale ideas have always been around because they usually make a buck or two. They lure the public by singing the siren song of familiarity. They don’t take chances. They doesn’t elicit inspiration. But most importantly, they don’t and won’t stop making them. Ouija: Origin of Evil is a victim of this cycle, however, it was able to separate itself from the wafting reek of the original. This movie was given a thoughtful and eerie script, expert direction, and stunning cinematography. Part coming of age and part nightmare, Oujia: Origin of Evil is one of the best horror films of the year." - 4.5 Stars

Huntress - "Ouija board centered movies have such a bad reputation that I usually expect next to nothing from them, but in this case the director behind the film was one I had a lot of faith in. So even when I would see the preview over and over, and each time was bombarded by a particular aspect of paranormal movies that I don’t understand the appeal of, I remained confident that Ouija: Origin of Evil would at the very least be worth a watch. And even with raised expectations, Mike Flanagan did not disappoint. Everything looked and felt authentic, the acting was great, and the characters were realistic. Definitely a huge improvement from the first movie."  - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Symbols and idols gain their power from belief, facts couldn't matter less. Take for instance the popular symbol used to mock religion, the upside down cross. "The origin of the symbol comes from the Catholic tradition that Simon Peter was crucified upside down. It is believed that Peter requested this form of crucifixion as he felt he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner that Jesus died." - Wikipedia.

Far from the symbol of evil that film and black metal bands have forged it into.

By Caravaggio

The same goes for the Ouija board. A Hasbro produced board game that has become a symbol of terror, with the help of films (The Exorcist) and occult figures (Aleister Crowley/Dick Brooks). Yet acknowledging the origins of a symbol as powerful as the Ouija board still won't get most nonbelievers to sit down and play a game. And then there are always the extreme instances where the urban legends inspire true evil. Below I've picked a couple stories from the record books of Ouija inspired/aided true crimes.

In the fall of 1929, two Seneca Indian women sat stooped over a Ouija board on the Cattaraugus Reservation near Buffalo, seeking to conjure a conversation from the great beyond.

On one side of the planchette was Nancy Bowen, 66, a tribal healer. Opposite her was Lila Jimerson, 36, who worked at a reservation school.

The women wanted an explanation for the recent death of Bowen's husband, Charlie (Sassafras Charlie) Bowen, another Seneca healer.

Slowly, the board revealed a startling message from Sassafras Charlie: "They killed me."

Who did it? the women asked.

The board spelled out an answer, letter by letter: "Clothilde." It added the killer's address on Buffalo's Riley St. and her description - short, with bobbed hair and missing teeth.

Curiously, Jimerson said she was acquainted with a woman of that odd name: Clothilde Marchand, wife of Henri Marchand, 53, a Parisian sculptor and former student of Rodin who created nature dioramas for Buffalo's Science Museum.

After the séance, Bowen received several letters, signed "Mrs. Dooley," explaining that Clothilde Marchand was a witch who had hexed Sassafras Charlie out of jealousy.

"Her witchcraft didn't work so good so she decided to kill him," one letter said. The healer grew convinced that Clothilde killed her husband - and she was next.

And so it was on March 7, 1930, that Mrs. Marchand, a petit painter who set aside a promising career to raise four children, answered a knock and was confronted by a stranger who accused her in broken English of being a witch.

Nancy Bowen pulled a hammer and beat down the Frenchwoman, then finished the job by stuffing chloroform-soaked paper down her throat.

David’s Plan

On the night of July 20, 1987, Ngoc Van Dang was cruising down an Orlando street when he spotted two female hitchhikers. The hitchhikers, 16-year-old Bunny Dixon and 18-year-old Elizabeth Towne, were actually Satanists with a murderous plan.

The girl’s boyfriends, Anthony Hall and Daniel Bowen, were watching from the bushes as Dang pulled over. They waited for the perfect moment before jumping out with a gun, robbing the Vietnamese exchange student, and throwing him in the trunk of the car.

The evil foursome brought Dang to a secluded area, and used a butter knife to carve an inverted cross on his chest. Then they shot him seven times in the upper body, killing him as a sacrifice to Satan.

Once the group was eventually caught, they told police that they were fulfilling the wishes of a dead 10-year-old boy named David. Communicating through a Ouija board, David reportedly told the kids to rob someone, steal a car and flee Florida to join a carnival in Virginia. (Source)(Source)(Source)

A woman and her daughter were hospitalized after their home was destroyed over the weekend by a fire just days after Paul Carroll, their husband and stepfather, appeared in court to face charges related to the brutal murder of their family dog back in December.

While seemingly unrelated incidents, both involved the use of a Ouija board, according to sources quoted in media reports. In fact, Carroll at one point blamed the board game for his crime while speaking with police, with his stepdaughter, Katrina Livingstone, purportedly claiming last Friday that the Ouija board told her just hours before the fire that she and her mother would die.

Neighbors claim that her mom, Margaret Carroll, 60, and Livingstone, 37, were playing the game Friday night in Consett, County Durham, U.K., with their home erupted in flames hours later.

Police are investigating the fire as an act of alleged arson and have placed Margaret Carroll and Livingstone under arrest, claiming that the two are suspects in the apparent act. While Carroll remains hospitalized and in stable condition, Livingstone has been released and is due in court on Wednesday to face claims that she committed willful arson, the Northern Echo reported.

Before diving deeper into their story, it’s important to explore Paul Carroll’s related case which preceded it.

Consider that it was only a few days ago that Paul Carroll, Margaret Carroll’s 51-year-old husband, stood before a court discussing how he had purportedly drowned and dismembered his family dog, Molly, after he came to believe that she had become possessed by an evil entity while using a Ouija Board to try and contact the dead on Christmas Eve, the Northern Echo reported.

He reportedly admitted to a court that he tried to dispose of the dog’s remains in a drain on the property. It was after it became clogged that workers who came to fix the problem made the grisly discovery, the outlet reported.

“When initially interviewed by police the defendant said the dog had died while he and his wife were using a Ouija board to contact dead spirits,” said prosecutor Blair Martin. “He said a bad spirit had entered the dog and it died.”

Later, though, police claim that Carroll, who is reported to have learning disabilities and mental problems but no past brushes with the law, admitted to drowning the dog, according to the Northern Echo.

Carroll, who told the court he caused the dog unnecessary suffering, will be heading back to court until February 24, though the subsequent fire that followed his court appearance over the weekend adds an entirely new element to the bizarre story.

As noted, Margaret Carroll and Livingstone ended up in the hospital over the weekend after the fire destroyed their home, with the Northern Echo reporting that they were hospitalized for “a condition unrelated to the blaze,” with police reportedly investigating the claim that they had used the Ouija board the night before the fire and came away feeling as though it predicted they would die.

Neighbor Donna Sowerby told the Northern Echo that Livingstone had informed her that the board had told them about the impending death; authorities arrived at the home to battle the flames around 8 a.m. the next morning.

Some in the neighborhood also claimed that Carroll and Livingstone were found in the home’s garden during the blaze, though the condition they suffered from and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.

“Two women, aged 60 and 37, were taken to the University Hospital of North Durham where they remain in a critical condition and under arrest for arson with intent to danger life,” said a spokesperson for the Durham Constabulary, a local police department.

For now, the investigation into the blaze continues.

Now if you find yourself unnerved by any of these stories just think about how Hasbro has now produced 2 horror movies openly feeding these urban legends. And how the more scared people become of these spirit boards, the better they sell...

Ouija boards are flying off the shelves. Not in the super- natural sense — but the commercial one.

The device, said to be a method of contacting the spirit world, is experiencing an unexpected renaissance. Google reports that sales of the board are up 300 per cent, and it is threatening to become a Christmas ‘must buy’.

The culprit is Hollywood, and a new horror film titled Ouija. Low-budget, lowbrow, it tells a familiar story — of kids dabbling with the ‘other side’ and coming off second best. The critics hammered it, but cinema-going teens, looking for something scary in the Halloween season, loved it.

Cue big box office takings and huge demand for Ouija boards, many manufactured by the American toys giant Hasbro. Being a canny company, Hasbro even helped finance the making of the film Ouija, which has put new life into the business of talking to the dead.

All rather amusing. Or not, depending on how one views this strange product, named after the French and German words for ‘yes’.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century theater for a preview night screening on 10/20/2016
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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