REPOST: Ouijageist (2020)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally shared this review on April 15, 2020. This movie surprised us with how much we enjoyed it. 

While not wholly original, this micro-budgeted, meta pseudo-sequel ended up being an entertaining work that led me to reminisce of the VHS home video days of Charles Band’s Full Moon universe when he’d converge the timelines of his oeuvre (e.g, Dollman from Dollman shows up Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, Dollgirl from Bad Channels shows up in Dollman, etc.).

In addition to Mr. Band, this second indie film from writer-director John R. Walker (who debuted with 2015’s fun-to-watch The Amityville Playhouse) also harkens Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm. Now don’t get worked up. I’m not saying Ouijageist is as good as Phantasm: I speak of Walker eschewing the awful CGI effects of today’s low budget horror films for budgetary-but-effective practical (in camera) effects and homage touches. (And Ouijageist’s sometimes too loud to-the-point-of-distraction synth-piano track is no Fred Myrow or Pino Donaggio masterpiece by any means. But Argento always cranked the music on his films, so maybe it’s a Goblin homage?)

And if that celluloid reminiscing doesn’t hook you, perhaps the meta aspect will: John R. Walker returns as “Peter Sommers,” who also appeared in Ghoul (2020), Meathook Massacre 4 (2018), and Amityville: Evil Never Dies (2015) alongside Lesley Scoble, aka Karen Harper, from Walker’s The Amityville Playhouse (2015). And if the meta aspects of the film don’t entice you to hit the big red streaming button, perhaps ye curiosity seekers of classic sci-fi and horror will recognize the name of Lesley Scoble as one of the creepy village children in 1960’s Village of the Damned.

Now, if you haven’t “geist,” this is a tale of an errant witchboard, aka Ouija board, and the malicious spirits it conjures from the beyond via the stupidity of the curious (that’s not an insult to Walker’s writing; all characters in horror films are too curious and dumb for their own good, natch). Like Eddie Murphy pointed out: Why don’t white people just get the fuck out of the house? And why didn’t Tom Selleck burn the painting in Daughters of Satan? Why do Paul Naschy’s warriors of evil in Horror Rises from the Tomb wait until the third act to pull out the ancient amulet? So let’s cut young India a break, okay?

Single mum India (Lois Wilkenson, affable in her acting debut) and her baby daughter Emily have moved out of their cramped apartment into a rental home owned by a friend of her mom Karen (Lesley Scoble). And during the course of moving in, her mischievous dog digs up the ubiquitous box in the backyard (now where have I seen that before?).

Oh, before I forget: Did you know that the board was responsible for a Swiss banker killing six people . . . then disappearing? Well, that’s what you get for not paying attention to the expositional news report. Eh, that’s okay. Neither did India’s friend Becca who, regardless of the word “Witchboard” wood burned into the box’s lid, decides it would be fun to play with the board inside.

Well, that didn’t take long. . . .

Becca’s pushed down the stairs, Emily’s blocks are spelling words, Mungo the dog (Pixie) is seeing things others don’t, Emily’s boiling in the bathtub, Mungo’s been decapitated, a garden hose takes on a serpent-like quality and kills a handyman, a Phantasm-styled creature jumps out of the sink drain, and Emily’s ex Paul does a Bruce Campbell with some pentagram body boils and scares the tea bags off of some coffee house patrons. Yep, the poltershites hittin’ the fan. Nope, Emily’s isn’t swallowed by the TV. But still . . . we better call Rod Steiger. Uh, we can’t. He’s dead. Eh, Father West and Bishop Chapman will have to do. Shite, that didn’t work. Here comes The Evil Dead siege. Does anyone pull a Linda Blair spiderwalk? Nope. (That’s too expensive a homage for the budget.) Does that six-armed Kâli from the cover show up? Nope. (But since when does anything from a horror box’s cover art actually appear in the film? Case in point: there’s no ponytailed, plaid skirted schoolgirl—complete with ax and skull mask—in the frames of One Night in October, either.) Is India accused of three murders? Does she vanish like the Swiss banker? Does her landlord play his cards close to the chest? Check, check, and check (just like a Paul Naschy movie).

Writer-director John R. Walker started out as a background and day player in the late ‘90s on several top-rated British programmes (Hollyoaks, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Doctor Who) and made what we here at B&S About Movies think is a pretty decent writing and directing debut with one of the better Amityville mocksequels, with the aforementioned The Amityville Playhouse.

While Ouijageist certainly doesn’t live up to its press release claim as a “frightening new supernatural spooker in the tradition of The Conjuring,” it presents genre homages that an Argento and Coscarelli fan like myself appreciates. Walker does a commendable job with his slight budgets and unknown actors, so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with on his currently in-development/productions Blood Bride and the Demons from Hell(great exploitive title), The Great British Massacre, and the oh-so-Italian retro zombie romp, Hell of the Screaming Dead (it’s all about the poster!).

Ouijageist made its U.S debut on DVD and VOD on April 14 via Wide Eye Releasing. You can stream it on Amazon Prime and learn more about the film at its official Facebook page. Thanks to Wide Eye for sending us the DVD.

Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR department. As always: you know that has nothing to do with our feelings on the movie.

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