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Rating History

Ouija: Origin of Evil
2 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This is definitely the year for horror films. When the announcement was made that a second Ouija film was in the works, I naturally just rolled my eyes, thinking what else is knew? Well, apparently a lot. Ouija: Origin of Evil improves over its predecessor in every conceivable way. Truthfully, I have grown tired of the way horror films are made nowadays, and while there are a few great ones out there, the same cheap thrills seem to be recycled over and over again. Director Mike Flanagan (of Oculus and Hush fame) presents this film in a way that makes it feel completely distant from its predecessor, while also borrowing elements and expanding on them. I can't believe I am talking this way about a sequel to a pretty terrible horror film, but anything is possible I guess. Here is how Ouija: Origin of Evil did for Ouija, what Fast Five did for the Fast & Furious franchise.

There are very few franchise that are able to build off of a story that never worked in the first place. Ouija: Origin of Evil is one of those rare films that is not only better that its predecessor, but rejuvenates the franchise into something surprisingly great, all while still telling the same basic premise. Just like the first film, this one follows a family as they explore the Ouija board game. Instead of just communicating with the dead and having no real emotional heft like the first film, this is more of a look into lost family members. Running a fortune teller business from their home, the Zander family (who had lost their father figure in the past) soon discover the Ouija board, which allows them to communicate with him. Adding just enough emotional gravitas to the premise, while significantly improving its chilling imagery, everything about this film is improved.

We can all admit, at least those who have seen the original Ouija, that this franchise needed to play every card in order to win back its audience. The first act of this film worried me, as many of the tropes used throughout the first film were being repeated. It almost felt like a remake, but with much better cinematography, a classic feel, and significantly improved performances and emotional weight. For those reasons, I could already tell the second and third acts would only get better from then on. Happily, I could not have been more right. Ouija: Origin of Evil, although its story is familiar, does its thrills in the third act better than any horror film in have seen in recent years. The funny thing about that statement is the fact that you have pretty much seen every scare before, but this film is able to pull it off with ease. Chills were sent down my spine on multiple occasions. That being said, even though this film puts a spin on a classic tale, that classic tale does feel overdone a few times throughout this film.

From kids/creatures crawling up walls, to generic jump scares, to religious beliefs increasing the fear in everyone in the film, Ouija: Origin of Evil does not seem to be going for anything new. Having said that, each time one of these things occur, it is done in a way that still surprises you and the family aspect enhances every single moment of this film. I was tearing up as my spine was tingling, hoping everything was going to be okay. The biggest issue with this film is that you spend the entire duration hoping for something original to happen, due to the fact that the story seems too familiar. I went from loving to disliking this film on multiple occasions, but I guarantee if you know that going in, you may just end up calling this a great horror film.

When it comes to selling a horror flick to a mainstream audience, they will chuckle at any opportunity given to them. During my showing of Ouija: Origin of Evil, a few people were audibly heard laughing out loud at some of the surprises or lines of dialogue given by the little girl, played by Lulu Wilson. As the film progressed, those chuckles quickly turned into gasps and you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. It does take about 20-30 minutes to really get into this film, but by the second and third acts you are hooked in for a very, very good horror film. With improved direction, cinematography, its classic horror feel, and performances that elevate the over-arching family dynamic, Ouija: Origin of Evil is one of the best horror films of 2016, and that is actually saying something, seeing as there have been quite a few good ones. Very solid horror film that I recommend to any fan of the genre.

Ouija (2014)
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In October of 2014, Ouija was unleashed unto the world. From a critical standpoint, it had been reviewed as one of the worst horror films in years. It ranked among many audience members top ten worst films of that year and very quickly dropped at the box office. Still, it made much more than what it cost to make, so obviously it would warrant its sequel coming soon, but lets have a look back on what spawned Ouija: Origin of Evil. While this film is admittedly bad, there are a few aspects that keep me from saying it is complete trash. Most people comment on how bad this film is as a whole, but it does attempt to tell an emotional story. Here is why the story of this film is under-appreciated, even if its execution is pretty bad.

While the idea of a Ouija board has never been all that terrifying or interesting enough to me, I must say that the first ten to twenty minutes of this film had me intrigued. It was less of a horror film and more of a drama about how this board makes people commit suicide. It was a very depressing first act, but it surely played all of the right moves to keep me engaged. That being said, the film quickly spirals into a cliche-ridden story with all of the horror tropes you have come to expect. To add to that, there aren't even enough of the cliched tropes to even call this a full-fledged horror flick. It is more of a drama with horror elements, which would have worked better if the films main focus was not on a game that is meant to scare people.

Although almost every character throughout this film is completely one-note, including the main protagonist, Laine, played by Olivia Cooke. Cooke does give a solid performance here, which comes as no surprise, due to the fact that I think she is a terrific actress in almost everything she is in. That being said, her character is not given enough to do, other than weep over the loss of her friend and learn more about the Ouija board. This film is a series of unanswered questions about who is really behind the words being spelled out on the board. By the end of the film you already known everything and the conclusion is about as cliche as you can get.

This film is about as serious as you can get with a horror film, but it does come off as comical at times. There are shocking moments that are ruined, due to the fact that they are just too silly to take seriously once revealed. I found myself poking fun at the film rather than being genuinely terrified. Not to say that there are not a few chilling moments, but most of them are followed up by something you see coming from a mile away. This film does nothing new to try and scare its audience. Normally great camerawork in a horror film can help build tension for a viewer, but this film was shot pretty static, making everything seem clean.

In the end, I admired the fact that Ouija tried to put a dramatic spin on this horror film, rather than just going all out on its horror aspects, but it was too little and it almost felt completely absent after the first act. When a film begins with promise, only to abandon its viewers halfway through, it becomes a frustrating film to watch. I see where everyone is coming from when they speak of how truly awful this film is. That being said, Ouija does have enough solid performances and intriguing set-up to say that it is not quite as bad as the critics make it out to be, but that is not saying much when looking back on the overall film. Simply put, this is a pretty bad horror film with some neat ideas.

You're Next
You're Next (2013)
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When it comes to cult classic horror movies, films like The Evil Dead or The Thing are what come to mind. After its short theatrical release at the end of the summer in 2013, You're Next quickly became known as a modern-day cult classic horror film. After watching it for myself a few years later, I can confidently say that I see why film fans have admired this picture over the years, but that I whole-heartedly disagree with its acquired cult status. Having a very interesting story with quite a few twists and turns throughout, this film is definitely worth checking out at least once. That being said, here is why I believe the repeat value is slim to none, unless you are going to poke fun at it.

The best thing this film has going for it, is easily the fact that it has an over-arching story that has a more than satisfying payoff in the third act. This is more of a suspense/slasher flick than an effective horror film. Without giving too much away, this film follows a family as they are invited over to their parents estate. Bringing along all of their newfound boyfriends or girlfriends, they enjoy a nice family dinner together, just before being terrorized by a few men in masks. Picking the family members off one by one, this film quickly becomes an exciting one. The biggest issue lingering over the entire film however; The acting is laughably bad.

When you have a film that relies on its characters in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be able to cast performers that will give their all in times of peril. From the parents, to almost every one of the main characters, none of them deliver believable performances. They are just seeing their family members for the first time in a while. Their initial reaction to seeing them being killed should be shock and terror, but their screams and sobbing all feel forced. I found myself chuckling at the performances rather than feeling grief for the family. This film also suffers from a twist that works, followed by many confusing character actions.

Erin, played very well by Sharni Vinson, is the character that audiences are supposed to latch onto the most. While her performance definitely saves this film from being terrible, her actions in the final act are very questionable, to say the least. After all is revealed and audience members are wondering how everything is going to wrap up, it quickly becomes a pretty generic conclusion with characters doing things that seem very far out of their comfort zone, in context with the rest of the film. This film keeps itself very confined throughout most of its duration and its eerie feel is always present, but it dives far too deep into generic slasher flick by the end.

In the end, I can see why some people think of this as a great horror film, due to its unconventional and original twist, but the bottom line is that none of these actors seem to give a compelling enough performance to buy into what is happening. It definitely has a few creepy scenes, but for every creepy moment, it is followed up by a generic jump scare. Due to the hype surrounding this film, I was hoping for something much more compelling to be honest. You're Next tries very hard to be different, but ultimately gets caught up in the same old horror tropes. I enjoyed portions of this film, but it is not the cult classic that it has slowly been becoming over the years. This is just another average horror flick in the end.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
4 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Jack Reacher was never that terrific to begin with, but if any franchise could have been saved from a significant improvement, it was this one. The first film is a serviceable action/thriller that audiences ended up being pretty divided over, so I was actually looking forward to a continuation, possibly diving deeper into the life of Jack Reacher or giving him a more exciting mission. That being said, this film accomplishes none of the above and everything that was done so well in the original seems to be thrown to the sidelines. This film proves why there are so many unnecessary sequels made each year, but the most puzzling aspect is that Tom Cruise actually produced it. I was never really a big fan of the first and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back still disappointed me. Here is why I recommend staying away from this sequel.

The biggest issue with the first film (in my opinion) was the pacing. Although each action sequence built on the last, moving the picture forward in the best ways possible, it fell apart with its excessive run time, making audiences slightly bored. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back falls into this trap tenfold. Following Mr. Reacher as he is still on the run from the law and trying to clear his name, he teams up with Major Susan Turner, who had also been wrongly accused and thrown in prison. On top of that, Reacher finds out that he may have a daughter from the past that has just turned up. Paying an enormous amount of attention to the family aspect surrounding this film, it becomes slightly too melodramatic. Due to the fact that this aspect is brought to the forefront so often, the action is even more minimal than the first.

There are a total of three or four very short action sequences throughout this film. Aside from the very end of the film, you have pretty much seen every other exciting moment already. Now, I do commend them for hiding certain aspects that they wanted to see secret until the films release, but it ended up using the best portions of the film to do that. This is a character study, disguised as an action/thriller, all while being a story about caring about family. It was a very odd change of pace that did not work for this film at all. I found myself scratching my head on multiple occasions, wondering if it was going to kick into gear, but it never does.

Sure, films like the Bourne franchise study its character rather than going all out with its action, but with the first Jack Reacher, even though they chose to have minimal action, at least they took the time to flesh out the core storyline. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back threads in between too many side plots to really care about the main story. When the action scenes arose, I found myself wanting them to end, because their sole purpose seemed to be due to the fact that its genre is in the action/thriller category. From trying to be emotional, to trying to be a serviceable action film, to trying to do everything it can to keep this an ongoing franchise, this picture fails on almost every level.

Everything about this film feels forced, but the chemistry between Cobie Smulders and Tom Cruise did feel present. I did not buy the relationship between Cruise and his supposed daughter, but I did not care too much about that plot to begin with. In the end, bringing in a fresh director did not help, going for a different take on this character just did not fit the genre, and the action pieces are slim to none. Aside from the aforementioned chemistry between its two leads and a commendable visual style, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one of the weaker films I have seen all year. That is saying a lot, coming from someone that did not expect it to be very impressive to begin with. In the end, I just cannot get myself to recommend this film, even to the fans of the original or the most generic of action junkies. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back has nothing interesting or fun to offer. It is a pretty awful attempt at a sequel.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher (2012)
4 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

From Top Gun to Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise is no stranger to big budget action films. Before the release of his most recent franchise starter in 2012 (Jack Reacher), fans of Cruise became very excited to see him take on yet another big budget action film. That being said, this film was far more mixed that one would have hoped, according to reviews and general audience reactions. Personally, I love Tom Cruise and I look forward to every time he is on screen. Whether it be for a great film like Edge of Tomorrow or a failed attempt in Knight and Day, his charisma has always brought me into the theatre. Upon its initial release, Jack Reacher did not do much for me overall, and even though I feel about the same, I have a few more thoughts on this film than I initially did as well. In light of its sequel coming soon, lets revisit this action film that really doesn't need a continuation.

Beginning on a very engaging opening sequence, setting up a puzzle for Jack and the police to figure out, Jack Reacher starts off very strong, before becoming a little too convoluted in its own premise. Introducing many side characters and setting up twists that may or may not come to fruition, this film plays with its audience. Rather than letting the audience figure out certain clues on their own, I feel as though this film spirals fairly quickly into a generic thriller that treats its audience as if they are not as smart as the writers. This film is already a very slow-paced one, so the fact that it has to dumb itself down in the third act really takes away from the great aspects. That being said, the very few action pieces presented here, are definitely top-notch.

While many people may have gone into this film expecting something overblown, the end result is actually much classier. Each action scene is placed very far apart from one another, making statements as the film progresses. There is not a single exciting moment that does not help the film along. There are very few blockbusters that come out nowadays that don't rely on spectacle for the sake of spectacle in order to get people into the theatre. For that reason alone, Jack Reacher felt like a breath of fresh air; However, even though this film takes much more care with its action and pacing than anyone could have hoped for, it does rely on the star-power of Tom Cruise to keep the audience engaged. This is definitely a Tom Cruise film, but it also wouldn't have been as enjoyable without him.

Director Christopher McQuarrie helms this film with ease, as every single frame seems to have a purpose. Thanks to an incredible cinematographer and editor, this film has some very tense pacing, along with some very unique camera movements. Adding all of these elements up, you'd think that an action/thriller starring Tom Cruise would be a sure hit. While all of these aspects truly are superb, this film takes no chances in doing anything special with its characters or story and the ending of this film could not have been any more generic to set-up a franchise if it happens to make money.

It may seem like I am being overly harsh on this film for being incredibly generic in its third act, it is without question that with all of the talent involved in front of and behind the camera, Jack Reacher should have been a revelation. Instead, it is just a moderately entertaining action/thriller that has just enough action and character development to keep the most average of moviegoers engaged. There are some people who love this film, some people who hate this film, and others that fall right in the middle. I am the latter part of that statement. I do not mind this film, in fact, I quite enjoy it, but its potential annoys me throughout its entire duration. Overall, Jack Reacher is fine, but the whole film displays missed opportunities in my opinion.