October is pretty much over, and- unfortunately- so is another season of Legally Redhead’s “Horrors of Netflix” series. It’s been a fun ride this past month, briefly interrupted while I traveled to the West Coast for nearly a week- but I feel like I picked some real winners to watch and review this time around (I use the term “winners” very, very loosely of course.)– and I hope those who have been reading my summaries and my suffering have enjoyed the posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
Of course, I plan on resurrecting “Horrors of Netflix” again in October 2016. By then, I’m sure Netflix will have added a fresh new crop of bad, cheesy, and nonsensical scary movies. I’m looking forward to it!
To close out this year’s assortment of one-star rated travesties, I opted for 2011’s ‘The Ouija Experiment’. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, I’ll be making the rounds around different events and parties without fear of heading to work the following morning- and I do believe one of my friends mentioned breaking out her own Ouija board for fun.
What could go wrong?
The synopsis, via Netflix:
“Film student Brandon and four friends play with a Ouija board, unwittingly opening a portal to the spirit world and a drowned girl’s deadly mystery.”
Oh, this is going to be fun.
AS USUAL- SPOILERS AHEAD. If you don’t want to know the ins and outs of ‘The Ouija Experiment’ (and why wouldn’t you?) DO NOT PROCEED. DO NOT CLICK THE “CONTINUE READING” TAB.
But if you do click it- enjoy!
“The film you are about to see is based on true events.”
That’s the message that first flashes across the screen before the opening scene starts, much like the ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies, and of course- it means the events actually never really happened.
‘The Ouija Experiment’ is one of those movies shot entirely with handheld cameras (so get the Dramamine ready!) and we immediately meet Brandon, the filmmaker who is way too old to be making stupid videos like this for his YouTube subscribers- and his friend Shay, who can’t seem to figure out how to work the camera while she plays around with it in Brandon’s car. They are in Texas, and en route to their friend Michael’s place to make a documentary with him and Shay’s boyfriend, Calvin.
Calvin’s sister is there, and her and Shay meet for the first time which is super awkward and uncomfortable. Calvin’s sister explains to, and sort of warns Brandon- that while Calvin loves being in front of the camera- Michael isn’t too keen on it. As if on cue, we meet Michael- who quickly establishes himself as the insufferable and high-strung douche who thinks he’s way more clever and witty than he actually is. He immediately throws a fit about the camera- and I wondered why Brandon didn’t just haul off and sock him in the face.
Eventually, he relents- agreeing to let Brandon conduct a couple of quick on-camera interviews and film him explaining the rules of the Ouija board he’s going to reveal to the group- under the pretense that Brandon stop filming immediately afterwards. During the interviews, we learn that Shay is extremely gullible, Calvin is an egotistical player, and Calvin’s sister- for some inexplicable reason- has the hots for Michael.
After laying down the rules, Brandon not-so-subtlety-rigs up the camera to record the group attempting to get the Ouija board to work and communicate with some spirits. After some mild pranking (of course), they do make contact with a couple of different spirits and ask a few basic questions before Calvin takes a phone call elsewhere in the house. Shay, seemingly onto his trifling ways- asks the ghost who he’s texting- which results in an argument upon Calvin’s return after the ghost sells him out and spells out the initials of a girl.
Note to Self: Use a Ouija board to find out when men are two-timing.
Shay storms outside, and Calvin- furious that a paranormal entity has ruined his chances of getting laid that night- tells the ghost to show itself before he runs after Shay. Michael, Calvin’s sister, and Brandon sit around the board in awkward confusion before the pointer spells out the word “bedroom”- prompting the three to go check it out. Michael notices that photos he had on display in his bedroom are now knocked over or upside down- and rightfully freaked out- they bid farewell to the ghost after promising to play with it again the following night and bail.
Elsewhere, Calvin is trying to convince Shay to let him record the two of them fooling around via a camera he’s set up in the corner of his bedroom. Shay is reluctant, and after Calvin disappears into the bathroom to shower- still trying to coerce her in with him- we see Shay rifle through the pockets of the pants he’s left on the bed- eventually finding what looks like a girl’s phone number written on a piece of paper.
The following day, Michael, Brandon, and Calvin’s sister- who I finally caught her name. It’s Lynette- have a Skype conversation with some blonde paranormal expert who is CLEARLY reading her lines off of cue cards or a script held up off screen or something. It’s so bad. She basically reiterates Michael’s ground rules for using the Ouija board the night before- except in a valley girl accent. There’s also enough pop culture references to render this movie obsolete in two years time: Boys II Men jokes, Tosh.0, the Antoine Dodson “hide yo kids, hide yo wife” viral video. It’s Godawful.
That night, Brandon is filming Michael and Lynette communicating with the spirits using the board again. They’re surprisingly polite with their questions- not antagonizing or egging any dead people on the way most people do in these types of movies- but they are interrupted by Shay who shows up at the house out of the blue and uses the opportunity to ask the spirit more questions about Calvin’s lying, cheating ass- and then how much Michael knew about it. The spirit throws Michael under the bus, too- which results in a blow-out fight. Shay runs out (again) and Lynette, Michael and Brandon follow after her once Brandon sets the camera down in a hurry. In the process- the group forget the most important rule of Ouija 101- you always say goodbye to the spirit you’re talking to. Otherwise- it can cross over, manifest- and cause damage.
The growing we hear while the board is left unattended sort of confirms that is what’s about to happen.
After taking a call from Brandon, Michael realizes the camera is there and still rolling. He’s dicking around with it when he hears a series of weird noises coming from around his house and does the ultimate white boy horror movie maneuver and goes to investigate. There’s a pretty good jump scare in the garage when one of his Halloween decorations buzzes to life while he’s looking around- but overall the whole angry spirit manifesting thing is pretty uneventful.
Elsewhere, Lynette is filming her conversation with Shay for a reason I can’t understand- and Shay promises that they’ll go back to Michael’s house the next night and say goodbye since it was her intrusion and subsequent tantrum that led the group to forget to do it in the first place. When that scene is done- we immediately cut back to Michael (and his terrible chest tattoo) as he flexes for Brandon’s camera to punish him for leaving it behind. His dumb ass slips and falls in the bathroom, though- thank God- although I think he may have been about to profess his love to Brandon because seriously- who does this?
Back at Lynette’s place, Shay wakes up and starts filming for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on. She’s apparently heard something unusual and has decided to investigate even though Lynette is nowhere to be found for backup. In the process, we catch a SUPER quick glimpse of what I’m assuming is the manifested spirit- which looks more like a rotund 40-something year old with glasses and a bowtie- which is a let down. It does come dangerously close to Shay a few minutes later while she’s filming- scaring the hell out of her until Lynette comes back inside from taking a phone call out on her porch. Of course, the entity is gone by then.
The following night, Michael and Lynette are attempting to rectify their rudely not saying goodbye to a ghost they learn was named Joseph. This information is relayed by a spirit Lynette is particularly fond of- a little girl named Gracie. She also tells the pair, as Brandon’s filming- that Joseph is no longer with her. Before they can pry for more information- Calvin shows up- extremely pissed off. He and Shay have broken up based on the information she was provided by the board the night before- and he doesn’t believe Michael when he swears up and down that he wasn’t the one to tell Shay about Calvin’s two-timing ways.
Calvin leaves with the board in a rage- which means Lynette and Michael didn’t get to say goodbye to Gracie. GOD. DAMN. IT.
That night, after setting up a camera to vlog or something- Lynette falls asleep. The sound of a little girl giggling wakes her up- and is infinitely more creepy than Joseph’s ghost with it’s huge glasses and stupid bowtie. When she goes to investigate- Gracie wastes no time in showing herself. I can’t tell if she wants to hurt Lynette, or if she just wants to play- but it’s unnerving regardless. Or maybe children are just kind of frightening in general. I don’t know. Lynette makes it through the night unharmed, however.
Brandon and Michael have a brief Skype conversation. Brandon has been doing some research on the entities they’ve contacted- despite not having last names, locations, dates of death, anything. He just Googled it and voila! apparently. Regardless. he’s learned that Joseph was Gracie’s neighbor- and he drowned her- prompting Gracie’s mother, Lisa- another ghost they’ve contacted- to kill Joseph in revenge. Thanks, Google!
Elsewhere, Calvin is recording himself using the stolen Ouija board by himself to prove a point that it’s a load of nonsense. He asks if anyone is there, but the pointer doesn’t move…. Until he hears a noise and goes to check it out and the pointer moves to “YES” by itself, anyway. When Calvin returns to talk some shit to the camera, we see what looks like a ghostly woman moving around in the background. Maybe it’s Shay- who’s still pissed off- but it’s more than likely Lisa. Calvin is caught off guard, pulled by hands off screen. When he re-appears, on the floor in front of the dropped camera- he’s dead- and dragged off. That’s what you get for stealing other people’s property, dick.
Michael is seen talking to Lynette on the phone, where he, too- admits to doing some Googling where he managed to find more information on Gracie. Turns out, she died on he and Lynette’s birthday- because they have the same birthday- because okay, sure. Michael is the next one to get screwed with (there’s an alarming lack of Brandon being tormented in this thing even though he’s been present for pretty much everything. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t actually touched the Ouija board? Only filmed it? Are there rules for that?) but it seems Gracie is the one haunting him- and she doesn’t hurt him. Instead, she just makes his bathroom look girly and childish- by changing his towels to a pink color and leaving beach toys on the counter by the sink.
When Michael shows Brandon and Lynette the footage later on, his bathroom is untouched in the playback, and a scene in which Gracie is clearly visible AND audible is mysteriously omitted- which leaves Brandon and Lynette skeptical. That night, he’s vlogging when he hears a noise and ONCE AGAIN decides to just go check it out. On his own. Without a means to defend himself.
Shay, who has been M.I.A. for a while now, heads into Calvin’s apartment because she wants to talk. She finds the pool of blood on the floor, then the camera- and then Calvin in a zombie-like state in the corner. He attacks her- his face contorting in the trite “possession” way- and the scene goes black. Let’s check on Michael, shall we?
Michael’s is still seeking out the source of the noises he hears, and despite capturing glimpses of the ghosts he never said goodbye to- specifically Gracie- in his camera, he presses on until he eventually reaches the pull-down ladder that leads to his attic. Michael does what any white guy in a horror movie would do- and you bet your ass he goes up into that attic, which is apparently his first time up there because he immediately finds a scrapbook with news clippings about Gracie’s death, the murder of her neighbor, and her mom’s suicide. Who saved all these? Who knows.
While Michael is reading the clippings, Lynette and Brandon are en route to Calvin’s house to burn the Ouija board. Brandon reveals that while Gracie’s death date matches Lynette and Michael’s birthday- it’s Joseph- the guy who killed Gracie, whose death date matches Shay’s birthday.
Are you following all that? Because I stared at my screen for a good five minutes after that reveal and just got mad about it. Rather than have this be a movie about a group of people that fucked around with a Ouija board and paid the price when they didn’t follow the rules- ‘The Ouija Experiment’ completely veers of track and tries to implement this stupid birthday/death date tie-in that doesn’t work and doesn’t make any damned sense.
Lynette and Brandon are attacked while retrieving the board and finding Calvin and Shay’s bodies- but they escape with it in tact and flee to go burn it. Back at Michael’s house- as he’s reading the news clippings- the movie shows it’s first scene not shot in handheld/first person mode and is entirely in black and white. It’s a flashback scene. Gracie’s mother, Lisa, is giving her a bath as the two prepare to join Lisa’s boyfriend at a farm somewhere. The boyfriend calls, and explains to Lisa that she’s being clingy and crazy and he doesn’t want to see her anymore. This break-up drives Lisa over the edge since she apparently has a case of ‘dick-2-bomb’- and she drowns Gracie in the tub in her rage. Joseph, the neighbor- comes to check on the family and finds Gracie in the tub. Horrified, he’s ready to contact the authorities when Lisa shoots him- and then kills herself.
Bitch move, Lisa. Bitch move.
Michael realizes that he’s in a house of murder and mayhem and decides it’s finally time to go- but he’s attacked by Bitch ass Lisa and her stupid gaping mouth on his way out. He hides in the bathroom just as Lynette and Brandon show up to rescue his ass. The two are CLEARLY calling out for him- but Michael doesn’t answer from his hiding spot in the bathroom, which leads the two to the attic where Lisa cuts Brandon’s head off.
I mean she just cuts it off. Just out of the blue.
Lynette rightfully FREAKS OUT which finally gets Michael out of the bathroom. Being the only two surviving people in their group of awful decision makers- they attempt to burn the board. Even when Lisa makes the lights go out. Even when she physically drags and tosses the two like rag dolls. Even when she keeps showing her big, stupid black hole of a mouth. They don’t give up- and Lynette chucks that thing into the fire A.S.A.P.
It appears as though Michael and Lynette have made it out of the ordeal alive- since Michael is seen holding the camera one scene later, but then, all of a sudden- he sees himself dead on the living room floor (WHAT?) while Lynette cradles him and cries. Joseph appears, then Gracie (WHERE WERE THEY TO HELP OUT THIS ENTIRE TIME?) and the two ghosts walk into the bathroom where Gracie died together.
Michael follows, demanding to know what happened- when he turns the camera towards the mirror- and it’s shown to be floating all on it’s own. Because he’s a ghost.
Let me just start by saying that the special effects in this movie were pretty good considering what I assume was a really low budget- and it had a fairly decent premise when it first began (and that’s coming from someone who is over the handheld/first person stuff)– but by the end of the movie, it had spiraled so out of control and the plot had become so convoluted that it was a pain in the ass to keep up. It was like they didn’t know how to finish it, so they just threw in some unrelated birthday theories and a shoddy attempt at some sort of M. Night Shyamalan/who done it? style twist to make it seem like a full-circle story.
Nope. Didn’t work. It was just bad.
But that’s what “Horrors of Netflix” is for- to find gems of sweet, sweet awfulness.
‘Til next October!