This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Kenny’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
Who would you be without your family? What do you do when things start to go bump in the night, threatening the ones you closest to you? While any sane person would rise up to the occasion and save their family if they had the chance to, in both Ouija: Origin of Evil and Oculus, director Mike Flanagan shows us that your own flesh and blood just might be the key in getting you killed.
Ouija: Origin of Evil is set in the 60s; something Flanagan doesn’t let us forget as the film begins with the old Universal logo along with the occasional cigarette burn cue mark. In the film, we’re introduced to Alice, played by Elizabeth Reaser, who is not only a recent widow, but the mother of two young girls named Doris and Paulina. Alice and her daughters run a business that involves tricking people into believing they’re speaking to the spirits of their loved ones. All is fine and dandy until Alice brings back a Ouija board home to an actual spirit that ends up possessing young Doris. Though there are obvious signs that something is wrong with Doris, Alice blatantly ignores them and by the time she eventually sees the spirit for what it is, it’s too late. In the end, Paulina ends up killing both her mother and Doris during her efforts to exorcise the evil spirit.
Oculus revolves an evil entity residing in a mirror. Our main character Kaylie (Karen Gillian) is trying to document the mirror’s evil powers before destroying it in order to exonerate her brother for the murder of their parents. However, as the mirror possessed their father into killing himself and their mother, it possesses Kaylie into killing her fiance and her brother into accidentally killing her.
Typically, family represents strength, love and vitality. However, in both of these films, the typical representation of what family stands for is completed rejected and it's because of this that both of films end in tragedy. The only people left alive at the end of each of these films are subjected to living the rest of their days in mental institutions for because of their families. However, if we can't trust our loved ones, who can we trust to help keep us alive?
In Hush, a film Flanagan released earlier this year on Netflix, our main character, Maddie, is alone and it's the main reason she ends up alive. The only interaction we see between Maddie and her family is when she speaks with her sister briefly over Facetime and interestingly enough, it’s her sister who notices something is amiss and its Maddie who shrugs off the danger. In the other two films, both Paulina and Kaylie are fighting for their families. Kaylie is trying to exonerate her brother and Paulina is trying to exorcise the demon in her sister. However, everything is all in vain because while they fought long and hard for their families, Paulina ends up institutionalized and Kaylie ends up dead.
Maddie lives, even though she was alone in her predicament. It’s the lack of her having any family to hold her back that helps her survive. Both Paulina and Kaylie put so of their efforts into saving their families, they forgot about themselves. Both of their love interests were killed by the very entities they were trying to destroy, all of their family members were either slaughtered or institutionalized and in all, they didn’t get the happy ending we were rooting for them to have. Because Maddie didn’t have to worry about anyone else, she put all of her efforts into keeping herself alive and it proved fruitful as she not only got out alive, she finished the story she was struggling to write at the beginning of the film, which goes to show a little selfishness can go a long way.