Is there any format more loathsome than “found footage”? I hate the way the camera jitters around. I hate the cheesy “video distortion” effects. I hate the constant thumping, creaking, and clicking in the audio track. Most of all, I hate the way that filmmakers use it as an excuse for poor cinematography, slipshod production, poor acting, and bad writing.
The Ouija Experiment is guilty of all these failings and more, but I have to admit that it’s an almost delightful failure. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cast of characters more absurd: Calvin the Promiscuous Black Guy (Eric Window), Lynette the No-Nonsense Black Chick (Swisyzinna), Shay the Ditzy Asian (Belmarie Huynh), Brandon the Obnoxious Youtuber (Carson Underwood), and Michael the… uh… Guy (Justin Armstrong). Taking their cue from slumber parties everywhere, they decide to play around with a ouija board. Dire consequences ensue.
The adventure begins with one of those “this shit is real” warning message things:
We’re quickly introduced to the movie’s trademark laughable dialog. As Brandon films the introduction to his latest attempt to create a viral online video, he remarks: “We are in Dallas Texas. I don’t know if too many people are familiar with that and what takes place down here. I don’t really know either.” What the hell? Who doesn’t know about Dallas? And what exactly “takes place down there” that is so unique?
May I ask: does nobody know how a camera works? Shay’s first line, as she flips on the camera, is, “Is this thing even ON?” Then: “How do you use this thing?” THIS THING??? It’s a video camera! When Brandon meets Michael, the latter’s first question is, “What is that?” Later, Shay spots another camera in Calvin’s bedroom and demands, “What’s that?” She then notes that she knows how to tell if it’s on: “I’ve learned about that from Brandon! That red dot right there.” This is just ridiculous. How stupid are we supposed to think these people are?
Next question: is a ouija board really this much of an exotic item? When Michael reveals that he’s called everyone together to play with one, Brandon replies with a breathless “OH MY GOD are you serious?” Like nobody has ever heard of this. Michael’s board is wrapped in white paper and string, as though it’s an arcane artifact and not a board game available from almost any retailer.
One more quick note: the character of Calvin is supposed to be “a player” with the ladies, but his excuses are hilariously inept. Caught having a phone conversation with a second girlfriend, he tells the group he was talking to his “mother”… but can’t come up with her name. Another time he’s discovered trying to film sex: “That’s a toy store camera, I was playing with toys in the house today.” When asked why the red light is on: “That’s just fingernail polish!” This guy is among the worst.
I don’t want to be unfair to the actors… it looks as though most of them were appearing in their first film here, and their performances, while not Oscar-worthy, wouldn’t seem as bad if the material they had to work with wasn’t so horrendous. Still, The Ouija Experiment fails not just as a horror movie but as a coherent story, period. I suppose it’s unfair to expect too much from the writer/director of 2010’s Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, but there’s a flashback sequence… in a found footage movie. Who was back there recording it in black and white? Not to mention the fact that one of the people in it is a dead ringer for the Angry Video Game Nerd:
Credit where credit is due: no opportunity for a “whoops that was unintentional” cleavage or butt shot is passed up. There are a few jump scares that work and a genuinely creepy “little ghost girl” sequence midway through, but horror movie fanatics won’t find much meat here. Unless you and your friends are really committed to mining this one for it’s unintentionally hilarious script, I can’t recommend it very highly.