Ouija is by-the-numbers horror leading nowhere

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      Starring Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, and Daren Kagasoff. Rated PG-14. Opens October 24.

      I remember Ouija. When I was a kid in the late '60s my older sister used to use our "weegee board" to try to conduct séances and communicate with the dead. I was never into it. "Leave the dead alone," was my motto. Plus, I didn't have much faith in a parlour game that you could cheat so effectively with.

      There's also a fair amount of cheating involved in the new teen-oriented horror flick, Ouija, in that you'll feel ripped off if you pay anything to see it. 

      The movie opens with a suspenseless prologue showing two little girls playing with a Ouija board, then switches to the present to show that the braver of the two has developed into a blonde hottie (Shelley Hennig) who still likes to fiddle with the heart-shaped planchette. But she breaks the rules by playing it alone, picks up some bad vibes from the malevolent spirits in her old house, and winds up dangling from a string of Christmas lights.

      Cue the heartbreak of BFF Laine (Olivia Cooke), who tries to get to the bottom of the shocking suicide, dragging her boyfriend, sister, and a couple of others along to another spirit-board session, with predictable ghost-summoning results. First-time director Stiles White kills a ton of time filming the photogenic teens creeping ever-so-slowly up dingy staircases to the tedious strains of a generic scary-movie soundtrack.

      Things pick up somewhat when Laine visits one of the former occupants of the house, a wheelchair-ridden mental patient played by Lin Shaye, the weirdo spiritualist from Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2 and probably Insidious: Chapter 3. But everything else leading up to Ouija's predictable climax is gimmicky safe, by-the-numbers horror, whether it's shreiking sound-effects, mouths sewn shut, gas stoves mysteriously flaring on, or people getting dragged along the floor and out of shot by invisible forces.

      Man am I sick of seeing people getting dragged out of shot by invisible forces.

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