2016 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

Writer-directors Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard - the fiendish minds behind Oculus - join hands for this prequel to 2014's supernatural nerve-shredder Ouija. The story goes back to 1967 L.A., where widowed mum Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) makes ends meet as a fake medium, staging sham seances with her two daughters. But her decision to spice up the act with a Ouija board has terrible consequences when her youngest, Doris (Lulu Wilson), is suddenly possessed by a very real and very malevolent spirit. Exorcise caution...

Directors

  • Mike Flanagan

  • Jeff Howard

Cast

  • Elizabeth Reaser

  • Henry Thomas

  • Annalise Basso

  • Lulu Wilson

  • Parker Mack

  • Lin Shaye

Review

Continuing the first horror franchise based on a Hasbro trademark, this box-ticking prequel to the 2014 occult dabble Ouija is a case study in movie possession.

Sweet little Catholic girl turns into a diabolical terror in a creaky old house. With lots of skeletons in its closets. But mainly in the basement. Eyes whiten. Jaws widen. Necks snap. Viewers jump. Job done.

The Exorcist-lite story is well served by young Lulu Wilson's neat transformation from cherub to demon, but the glossily underlit Sixties trappings - and the presence of Elizabeth Reaser as her phoney medium mum - give it the distracting feel of a Mad Men Halloween special.

That said, it builds up an effective, nape-prickling head of steam, with shocks in store for Doris's playground tormentors, her older sister Paulina (Annalise Basso) and their school principal-priest (Henry 'forever Elliott out of E.T.' Thomas, showing commendable, furrow-browed commitment to the cause).

If nothing else, it's worth it just to see the look on the smarmy face of Paulina's senior boyfriend (Parker Mack) when Doris talks him through the mechanics of strangulation.

Outwardly promoting caution but clearly designed to tempt teenagers into having a go themselves, it'll have boards flying off the shelves. Maybe literally.

B... O... O!

Elliott Noble