This little film released this past weekend pleasantly surprised the Hell out of me. I always love to find good spooky movies that are in the theaters so everyone can try and have an actual October Halloween scary movie experience in the big black box. Ouija: Origin of Evil surprised me in that I liked it as much as I did, but if I think about it, it really shouldn’t have at all. The first Ouija was, let’s just say, a missed opportunity. So why would I even venture out to see a sequel of a forgettable blah flick in the theaters? Because I like the director Mike Flanagan. When I heard he was directing this movie, that it was a period piece prequel instead of a sequel, and that they gave him a lot of creative opportunity to do what he wanted with it, I became intrigued. All of a sudden there was a curiosity where there originally was a vacant pit. With a prequel you can essentially start over. Plus, I’m a total sucker for period piece horror films. I love them so much. This one takes place in the 1960’s. Not only does it work from a technological point of view (no cell phones, no internet, mostly face-to-face discussions, etc), but there’s also a sweetness to the time period that contrasts so well to any kind of extreme horrors. The story here is about a mother and two daughters that give psychic readings to desperate people. They fake everything and put on a scam of a show. When the mother decides to add the new fad of a Ouija board to their show, wouldn’t you know suddenly shit gets real. The youngest daughter starts hearing and seeing actual spirits, and now their scam business is suddenly the real deal. But… well, as you know, things aren’t always exactly as they seem. I’ll let the movie take it from here. This is an old fashioned ghost/possession/haunted house tale that’s way better than it needs to be. Its strongest point is Flanagan taking his time to create well rounded characters, each of which you truly care about. That was (just one of) the main problems with the first Ouija movie. You really didn’t care about the teens at all. Here, you really care for the mother, the daughters, and the priest (a truly welcome return of Henry Thomas) and even the boyfriend that are all the main focus here. Flanagan deftly takes his time with the scares, slowly building, until some truly terrifying visuals and scares pop out at you. And BECAUSE he took his time, they work that much better. You absolutely do not need to have seen the first one to enjoy this one, in fact, I’d say this is best seen on its own. With the exception of some connecting tissue toward the end, it’s completely its own animal. Don’t be scared away by the weaker PG-13 rating either. This movie is scary, has some serious frights, and one hell of a demon creation (God bless Doug Jones). It’s old-fashioned fun through and through. I enjoyed the absolute Hell out of this movie and you will too. You may not believe me considering its source material, but trust me on this one, guys, it’s really really solid.