OUIJA CRAFT (2020) review of tick-box yet fun teen witch movie

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The main bleeding girl image is cribbed from Carrie (2013)

‘It’s witching hour. Time to play.’

Ouija Craft is a 2020 American horror feature film about two teenage witches who bring their dead friend back from the grave. Unfortunately, their resurrected friend returns with an evil bent…

Written, co-produced, photographed, edited and directed by Aaron Mirtes (American Hunt; Curse of the Nun; Clowntergeist), the Exit 10 Films production stars Ivy Rhodes, Lacy Hartselle, Allison Shrum and Taylor Novak. Co-produced by Madi Johnson.

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Despite test screening rejections, extensive reshoots and damning reviews, the 2014 smash-hit Ouija, a co-production between bandwagon jumpers Michael Bay and Jason Blum, successfully exploited the mainly female teen fascination with Hasbro’s game board and raked in $103 million at the box office alone, even before residual sales. A superior prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil, helmed by horror ‘superhero’ Mike Flanagan followed and took a cool $81 million.

Thus, it was inevitable that a slew of cheapo movies with ‘Ouija’ in the title would follow, some of which were clearly just retitled from their original moniker to cash-in on the keyword. So, we have had The Ouija Exorcism (2015), Ouija Summoning aka Ouija: The Devil’s Game (2015), Ouija: Blood Ritual (2017), Ouija House (2017), Ouijageist (2018), Ouija Séance: The Final Game (2018), Ouija Mummy (2019) and Ouija Room (2019). The nadir and perhaps the absurdly logical obvious entry in this race to names is Brett Kelly’s tongue-in-cheek Ouija Shark (2020). And now we have another entry in the Ouija name stakes and one that also riffs on aforementioned Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy rehash (sorry, sequel).

Make no mistake, from its clearly cookie-cutter title alone, Ouija Craft is totally generic low-aspiration horror genre filmmaking by assembly line auteur Aaron Mirtes. And yet, despite all the derivative witchery shenanigans and the silliness of the potions (bay leaves anyone?), invisibility, telekinesis (a nod to Carrie), incantations and a clichéd red and blue-hued prologue (overused in the ’80s and sadly still trotted out), this is a slightly more exuberant affair than most of its ilk. What’s more, the obvious keenness of the three female leads (Ivy Rhodes, Allison Shrum and Lacy Hartselle) more than compensate for obvious budgetary shortcomings.

Previously, Aaron Mirtes had chalked up some minor plus points with regards to his seemingly obvious horror title knock-offs. Despite its ridiculous title, Clowntergeist certainly had some twisted elements that elevated it above the norm and Curse of the Nun was also off-kilter in a slightly memorable way. There are scenes in both of these that this reviewer can recall unlike many of the hundreds of other movies from the same period.

Running at just over seventy-five minutes before credits, Ouija Board doesn’t hang around too long which makes the daftness onscreen much more agreeable. If only other filmmakers could take note that we don’t need fifteen more minutes of filler just to make it a pointlessly ninety minutes slog. Less is more, as they say.

Plus, as it should always be noted when considering such low-budget horrors, there are a lot worse out there. If you take Ouija Craft on its own frugal and fun teen-friendly terms you may find it a passable time-waster.

Final thought: Although Meg Ryan already played with an Ouija board in Amityville 3-D (1983), can it be long before we get an Amityville Ouija title combo?

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Release:

Ouija Craft is available to rent or buy via High Octane Pictures at Amazon.com

Cast and characters:

Ivy Rhodes … Jess
Allison Shrum … Abby
Lacy Hartselle … Rory
Taylor Novak … Sam
Mack Bayda … Mack
Brad Belemjian … Officer Lyle Montgomery, The Shaman and Funeral Guest
David Ditmore … The Father
Bella Martin … The Daughter
Alice Raver … The Mother
James Barnes … Funeral Guest
Mack Bayda … Funeral Guest
Chloe Howcroft … Funeral Guest
Alex Johnson … Funeral Guest
Madi Johnson … Funeral Guest
Daniel Mirtes … Funeral Guest
Luke Mirtes … Funeral Guest
Tonya Mirtes … Funeral Guest
Jay Weinberg … Funeral Guest

Technical details:

80 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Trivia:

British filmmaker Charlie Steeds gets a ‘special thanks’ in the credits.

Related:

The Ouija Board: A history and its influence – article

  

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