A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ouija is a horror movie based on the official game by Hasbro. Friends experimenting with the game end up connecting with a murderous evil spirit -- which results in several of the teens being killed, including one by hanging and another after her head is bashed into a bathroom sink (other deaths take place off screen). Lots of scary stuff is shown, including creepy ghosts screaming and charging at the camera, sudden noises, and jump-shocks. Some of the teen characters are in relationships with each other, but there's not much kissing. Language is infrequent, and there's no drinking, smoking, or drug use. Hasbro is credited as the legal owner of the Ouija game, and Apple iPhones and laptops are shown. If the movie catches on with teens, it will only be thanks to the "so bad it's good" factor.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In OUIJA, teen Debbie (Shelley Hennig) has been acting odd lately; she won't even let her best friend, Laine (Olivia Cooke), into her house. Suddenly Debbie turns up dead, and Laine decides to investigate via the Ouija Board she finds in Debbie's room. She gathers her friends, and they connect with an entity from the other side. But strange things begin to happen, and Debbie's friends start dying. After snooping in the attic where the board was found, Laine finds clues to its past and what might have happened. She gets further information from a mysterious woman (Lin Shaye) in an asylum. But the real danger has yet to begin.
Is it any good?
The movie offers some legit frights, but none of it matters when the story, characters, acting, and dialogue are so poor. Unlike the cheesy 1980s and 1990s Witchboard movies, Ouija is the official movie of the Hasbro board game. Co-produced by Michael Bay, the movie offers up all the textbook scares -- like sudden loud noises and jump shocks, ghosts opening up their mouths unnaturally wide and screaming and rushing toward the camera, and mysterious figures standing and facing a wall. Some of this stuff is still effective, which is why it has been copied, and it can generate some chills.
But the teen actors look like they mistakenly came from modeling school rather than acting school. They're very attractive but barely even mobile; they mostly pose and pout. Their behavior makes little sense (why does one teen ride his bike into a dark tunnel?), and the plot twists are lazy and formulaic. Only Lin Shaye as a crazy old lady offers up a spark of fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ouija's violence. How much blood and gore is shown? How does the movie achieve its scary effects?
Does the movie make you want to try a Ouija Board, or does it make you want to stay away from them? Why do you think Hasbro decided to let its product be used so prominently in a movie?
How responsible are the teens in this movie? Are any of them intended to be role models?
- In theaters: October 24, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2015
- Cast: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff
- Director: Stiles White
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent content, frightening horror images, and thematic material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.