Remember back in 1986, when a Ouija board was the focus of an entire movie? Sure, the board has made a cameo here and there in movies ever since, but director Israel Luna (of Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives and Fright Flick fame) brings the board back as the star in a found footage film that blows away Witchboard and its sequels.
This little indie flick proves that you can deliver intense scares with a minuscule budget and minimal CGI. I knew as the movie progressed that this was going to be one of my all-time favorite found footage films, a generally hit or miss horror subgenre. A big part of this film having a major effect on me could be because of my own personal, terrifying past experiences with Ouija boards, which I discuss in depth on my Horror Home Zone page.
The plot is just what you’d expect; a group of friends gets together and messes with a board while one friend films it. Right off the bat, anyone who has used a Ouija board will appreciate the authenticity of the movement of the planchette: the way it begins to take on a life of its own, the frantic patterns it seems to follow, and the moments when it’s going so fast it kind of jumps out from under your fingers.
We meet a refreshingly diverse and likable group: two white dudes, a black brother and sister, and an Asian chick. After their characters and relationships are set up through some lighthearted, funny exchanges, we get right into the Ouija action.
And that’s where the slow burn begins. There’s a natural buildup to the eventual unleashing of a malevolent spirit. When the evil finally escapes, the tension and terror totally spikes. This is some of the best use of camera POV to deliver jump scares and ghost appearances that I’ve seen yet in a found footage film. It really rivals most of the visual shocks in the Paranormal Activity franchise.
And speaking of, director Israel Luna is well aware of his inspirations for the film and makes sure the characters reference them: The Entity, Paranormal Activity, Witchboard (including a funny reference to the Whitesnake connection). There’s even what seems to be a wink to The Blair Witch Project involving someone standing in a corner. Creepy.
The movie Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives garnered Luna a gay viewership for any horror flick he does. While The Ouija Experiment isn’t exactly as out and proud, there are a couple of references to one of the characters possibly being gay. Plus, all three guys are cute, with the black guy, played by one Eric Window, getting the total yummy stud award. Aside from being sexy and funny, he has an unforgettable towel scene. And yes, he loses the towel. OMG, that ass.
As with most found footage films, you can expect a few instances of questionable continuity. Why, for instance, does one chick seem doubtful of one of the guys having seen ghosts after she had a major ghost confrontation herself…which she doesn’t even mention? And there’s the usual pondering of why they never put down the camera—but here, they are pretty much intent on documenting what’s happening and don’t particularly believe the ghosts mean them harm because they think they’ve befriended them through the Ouija board.
The series of ghost sequences in the second half of the movie are brilliantly handled. I nearly peed myself a few times. And eventually, we get a flashback segment showing the malevolent ghost’s motivation, which is like a short horror film in itself, complete with a great little twist. And the surprises don’t stop coming until the very end of the movie.
Sure, it’s a found footage flick and a Ouija board flick, but the exclamation point at the conclusion of The Ouija Experiment reminds us that it is also one hell of a ghost story.