The Official Parenting Handbook
Chapter 24: How to Tell If Your Child Might Be Possessed
Please check as many of the following that apply.
1. Tendency for crows to congregate in your child’s presence.
2. Strange animals, such as dogs, hanging around that seem perpetually hostile.
3. Sudden claim that he/she has cool new (apparently imaginary) friends, particularly if he/she has been friendless before.
4. Sudden ability to channel different voices, including those of the other gender, with apparent ease.
5. Appearance of talents, gifts, skills etc. that could only be acquired with years of practice/studying.
6. Doors slamming shut, lights going off and objects moving around on their own in your child’s presence.
7. Projectile vomiting, even when the child appears to have ingested nothing harmful.
8. Sudden appearance of priests in the vicinity who seem interested in your child’s odd behavior.
9. Newly acquired ability to propel oneself in the air and slam into walls.
10. Newfound ability to get even with bullies by scaring the daylights out of them and even putting them in the hospital.
Certainly, more than a few of these apply to young Doris (Lulu Wilson) in “Ouija: Origin of Evil.” Oh, she starts out as a normal, adorable little girl, left suddenly fatherless, who lives with her mother (Elizabeth Reaser) who employs Lulu and her older sister (Annalise Basso) to make her séances convincing in 1960’s Los Angeles. But when Lulu starts displaying seriously odd traits, such as an ability to write cursive that she’s never been taught, a tendency for the Ouija planchette to move on its own in her presence, and the ability to read the minds of Elizabeth’s customers, her mom decides to roll with it – maybe the “gift” has skipped a generation – and have her help out even more. This is the part where the movie characters begin to act like they are in a movie, as opposed to reality. For example:
You are a youngish, hip and handsome Catholic school headmaster/priest (Henry Thomas), and one of your students has missed four days of school. Her older sister informs you that the situation is complicated, that the child is not sick, and that she is actually assisting her mom with her séance business. You:
a) Tell the sister to please make sure the child returns to school in a timely manner because there are laws about these things.
b) Call the mom and inquire as to what’s going on.
c) Invite the mom in for a conference so you can get to the bottom of this.
d) Invite the mom out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and only bring up the topic after you order a lavish meal.
Yes, folks, in “Ouija,” Henry goes straight for option d), which understandably confuses Elizabeth (and the viewer), especially because Henry is a widower. But nothing improper happens because there are bigger problems to deal with – such as the discovery that Elizabeth’s home’s basement once housed victims of a Nazi doctor who managed to escape to America and continue his experiments. The same basement that has been revealed to have a secret chamber in the wall in which real money appeared after Lulu asked her father to help when they were threatened with foreclosure. After Henry participates in a séance, he realizes Lulu is – wait for it – possessed and needs an exorcism. This task, especially as the Nazi doctor’s victims may be complicating things, will not be easy.
“Ouija” is suitably scary for a movie appearing the week before Halloween, though not as scary as the trailer for “Split,” starring James McAvoy as a man with 23 personalities, who abducts three girls, which is truly creepy. (One wonders, however, how the scriptwriters chose the number 23.) And Annalise gets my vote for Most Sensible Horror Movie Character ever when she points out that splitting up during the climax is about the dumbest thing ever. Finally, someone with common sense.