OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL

—by Jeff Schultz

A well-done sequel that is much better than the original. While it becomes incoherent once the explanation for all the bad stuff that’s happening is laid out, getting to that point is creepy fun, thanks to strong performances by a cast of lesser-knowns — and Henry Thomas! E.T.’s Elliott plays a troubled, possibly less-than-committed priest in the mold of Hal Holbrook in THE FOG and Jason Miller in THE EXORCIST. (Also, re EXORCIST: there’s a fun nod that starts with some Tubular Bells-y music, over which we see a clear allusion to the poster shot of Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin, briefcase in hand, outside the Linda Blair house.) Lulu Wilson as the possessed daughter is the youngest actress I can remember delivering an extended, one-shot monologue — certainly the youngest one to nail it: she describes to a teenage boy with deadpan dead-seriousness what it’s like to be strangled, and it rocks. Rounding out the cast, solid support as well from the mother and older daughter (Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso). This is actually a prequel, taking place in the same house as the first one, but 50 years earlier. Stay until the credits end: there’s a clever cameo button that further ties the two OUIJAs together.

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