Reviewed by: Rev. Bryan Griem
Can people really communicate with the dead? Answer
demons in the Bible
What is the Occult? Answer
Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer
death in the Bible
dealing with death
|Featuring:|| Lin Shaye … Paulina Zander
Doug Jones … Marcus
Annalise Basso … Paulina Zander
Elizabeth Reaser … Alice Zander
Henry Thomas … Father Tom
Kate Siegel …
Alexis G. Zall …
Lulu Wilson … Doris Zander
Sam Anderson …
|Director:||Mike Flanagan—“Oculus” (2014), “Hush” (2016), “Absentia” (2011)|
“When you talk to the other side, you never know who will be listening.”
Prequel: “Ouija” (2013)
Round two of Ouija! Or more accurately, round one, as this episode follows the popular prequel trend and adds to its title the strapline, “Origin Of Evil.” Apparently, the back story takes place in the sixties, and this recent installment does a good job of recreating that simpler era when things were “groovy, ” yet people could still go on a murderous rampage at the behest of Nazi ghosts.
The story opens at the home of a fortune-telling family that provides fake séance experiences for grieving patrons who seek closure from departed loved ones. Despite all of their well-intentioned-though-deceptive theatrics, the fun really begins when a Ouija board arrives and actual necromancy ensues. Who is speaking through the board, and can we talk to our late daddy? Just like the deceptions of the soothsaying household, the voices from beyond are also not what they appear—until they finally appear, and it doesn’t bode well.
There is a stereotypical Catholic priest thrown into the mix who talks of exorcism, spiritual deception, and then quotes one pertinent Scripture passage that gives him credence: 1 John 4:1 “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” This is a good message in the movie, since so many recognizable occult practices are trotted out which immediately fall under this rubric, and when the spirits of the Ouija are tested, they fail. We wouldn’t expect any Christian minister to play Ouija, but the Padre does (for testing’s sake) and it turns out like you’d expect.
The characters were all well cast, and special kudos for the performance of the film’s youngest star, Lula Zander, who plays little Doris, the disturbing possessed child. She disturbed me anyway. While the timely release of this film is probably meant to sell more Ouija boards for Halloween and Christmas, the question of “who’s on the other side” rings loud and clear: You can’t know that the spirit world is all happy grandparents and fairies and angels, it could just as likely be populated with devils, goblins, and the vengeful dead (and sure enough) poor Doris falls victim to such as the latter. Of course, the Bible does not agree that human spirits are haunting places and possessing the living, and it likewise denies that they may be contacted for information; “the dead know nothing” (Eccelesiastes 9:5). God even commands “ Do not turn to mediums or consult spiritists, or you will be defiled” (Leviticus 19:31 HCS).
Now, we know that there is a demonic realm that does exist and “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). So if someone were to actually make occult contact with a seemingly nice spiritual entity, it should be presumed dark, deceptive, and dangerous. And as the Bible asks, “when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). It is not man’s privilege to discuss matters with human souls in the afterlife. To make the attempt is only a faithless means of going around the will of God, while simultaneously inviting powerful trouble from His demonic enemies. That said, we might actually cheer the redeeming qualities about the movie, as it shows the possible, very negative implications of dabbling in the occult, and it also says something about not believing every spiritual thing you see and hear, as there is “showmanship” and fraud on many levels. I also thought the family’s religious sensibilities reflected much of our world’s, as they were clearly presented as having a religious faith in the Biblical God, while also dabbling in clearly pagan rituals. One cannot serve two masters, and clearly God is not served when this other stuff is embraced.
Regarding movie moments of which to be aware, there are stabbings, hangings, painful-looking contortions, demonic entities, some small amount of blood-letting, and several off-camera incidents of suggested violence. For a horror genre film, this is one of the least gory, but there is a bit. Glazed eyes were the unsettling sign of possession, and lips sewn shut were likewise unpleasant. There is an innocent teenage kiss, no sex, but suggested alcoholic “coffee” at a teen party and also some drinking of wine by adults. OMG and OG are blurted complete (about four times) Christ, Hell, and Bitch are all used as expletives; anus and excrement are used in their more expletive forms. The language is probably on par with what we’d expect from people not concerned with such things, but at least it isn’t some constant barrage like we see in so many R-rated movies, and that is why it is only PG-13.
Finally, there is a post credit “cookie” at the very end of the film before the theater lights come on, and I’d say that its only worth staying to see if you are familiar with the previous Ouija incarnation, but it’s nothing fantastical. You may also leave the theater with mixed emotions about the point of the movie and what fruit it will bear. As has been pointed out, this is a dark subject with horrible images and worldly thinking, but there is enough truth in it to perhaps close the pocketbooks of would-be purchasers of Hasbro’s “innocent” parlor game For Ages 8+. God only knows…
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Moderate—“Christ” (1), “My G*d” (1), “Oh G*d” (4), “Oh my G*d” (3), “hell” (1), “a**-hole” (1), “cr*p” (1), b*tch (1) / Sex/Nudity: Minor—some cleavage kissing
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…feels less like the continuation of a budding franchise than an apology for what went wrong the first time… ultimately bogged down by the backstory baggage it’s forced to deliver. …
—Geoff Berkshire, Variety
…Mike Flanagan’s film is essentially a branding exercise, and its setup formulaic, but the director injects plenty of fun into this story of supernatural possession. …[3/5]
—Mike McCahill, The Guardian (UK)
…a cross between “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist”… [3/5]
—Edward Douglas, New York Daily News
…deliciously creepy, thanks largely to a terrific performance by the youngest of its stars…
—Neil Genzlinger, the New York Times
…visually sumptuous film… Old-fashioned storytelling provides some satisfying scares. …Infused with psychological complexity and nuanced characterizations…
—Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
…the best “based on a board game” movie ever… thoughtful and moving family drama that stands on its own as a terrific horror movie…
—Scott Mendelson, Forbes
…the film almost fatally succumbs to the hoariness of horror conventions, from exorcisms and vengeful spirits, that are trotted out with erratic abandon. …[2½/4]
—Ed Gonzalez, Slant magazine