Ouija: Origin of Evil
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for disturbing images, terror and thematic elements.
For a horror sequel built around a foundation of genre trends, “Ouija: Origin of Evil” contains far more goofy-spooky-fun than one might expect. Start with an adorable moppet, one who’s all the more horrifying when she terrorizes her family. Lulu Wilson has a picture perfect blonde flip as Doris, who soon becomes a bit too close to a ghost named Marcus thanks to the Ouija board. Make sure she has a single mom (Elisabeth Reaser) who is too distracted to notice when her child becomes possessed. All the better if she’s a widow and a fortuneteller and open to the idea of channeling spirits. Don’t forget a hunky Catholic priest (Henry Thomas). The formula is as old as “The Exorcist,” to which “Ouija” faithfully adheres.
KATIE WALSH, Tribune News Service
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Unrated, sexual references
This is a thigh-slapping Australian comedy of adolescent anxiety that fans of Wes Anderson or “Napoleon Dynamite” will adore. Greta (Bethany Whitmore), a wallflower freshman at her new high school, has an angst-storm when her parents set up her 15th birthday party and — surprise! — invite the whole school. The film is a clever collision of darkly funny, relatable worries about blending in and bizarro fantasy sequences that feel straight from hallucinogenic dreamland. Every detail is meticulously designed, from the hilariously dreadful hairstyles and high-waisted trousers to the school’s silent, scary Valkyrie-sized twin sisters. Written by co-star Matthew Whittet and directed by newcomer Rosemary Myers, this feels like a unique, handmade greeting card from stars of tomorrow.
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for disturbing violence, language, sexual references.
Rebecca Hall is striking in the role of Christine Chubbuck, a TV reporter in Sarasota, Fla., who shot herself live on-air in 1974 and died hours later. Director Antonio Campos offers a portrait of a woman who is amusing and relatable one moment, visibly troubled and worrisome the next. Though the conclusion of the story is preordained, it keeps us guessing about what triggered her collapse, why her newsroom colleagues never recognized her issues and how well we understand the unfathomable personalities of other people in our own lives. There are no cheap explanations; the film casually shows us how the nation’s attention was divided among the political crisis of Watergate, soft rock and the “Mary Tyler Moore” show. It doesn’t suggest the idea that our bipolar state of mind was the sort of mentality that ignores catastrophes building right beside us, but it doesn’t deny it, either. Hall is both eccentric and touching as a promising, complicated and needy woman on the edge of her personal abyss.
⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R for bloody horror violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use.
This hamfisted attempt to cash in on Halloween is a vile, crass, circus maximus of grindhouse gore. After a nightmarish but solid step into horror with 2005’s “The Devil’s Rejects,” recording legend Rob Zombie’s sideline in shockers has become progressively worse. With this stew of jump scares and boredom, his largely crowdfunded seventh film, he visits his lowest circle of sadomasochistic hell. Opening with a vicious announcement by a depraved killer to his blood-caked victim that he isn’t concerned with how the hopeless fool responds, the film follows the same in-your-face-sucker trajectory for the audience.
Five road-tripping 1970s carnival workers (with Rob’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, at the center) are kidnapped and forced into a survival game involving chain saws, nail-spiked baseball bats and machetes. The home team they face while locked into an abandoned factory includes various deplorables, including a swastica-adorned Latino midget. The 12-hour war is conducted for the entertainment of aristocratic Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell, who should find better ways to pay his bills). The carnage is uninterrupted as the players are chopped into gruesome little pieces. Actually it’s this suffocating, unoriginal, poorly executed film that deserves the ax.