Dorsey’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had no intention of watching this. The trailer only confirmed that for me, looking like a dozen other "possession/creepy kid/haunting" movies to have come out in the last few years.
But I have a friend who loves awful Ouija movies, and I really liked Mike Flanagan's Hush earlier this year, so I figured, why not?
And I thought it was great.
Unlike Hush, which pretty much got to the point, Ouija: Origin of Evil is more of a slow burn. We take our time getting to know the Zanders, a mother and two daughters still reeling from the sudden loss of their husband/father, a tragedy made even more horrific by the 1960s setting. Alice, the mother, is suddenly faced with the challenge of entering the workforce, as a woman who hasn't worked since her teenage daughter was born, if ever.
She rebels against the roles that society wants to force her into (teacher, nurse, receptionist, nun?) and chooses her own path as a medium, hosting seances with the dead with their grieving loved ones. The role of the medium/fortune teller is another role that is traditionally feminine, but it is one that Alice chooses for herself, which is in direct opposition to the Christian-patriarchal system, and although she is no more qualified to do that as she is to be a nurse, she genuinely wants to help relieve her neighbors of their pain, and do for them what she can't do for herself and her daughters.
It's the setup for a specifically feminine way of experiencing horror. The way that the three main characters interact with the world is innately gendered. "Leave room for the Holy Spirit", before your sexuality becomes a threat to the natural order of things. "Your mom's a witch!" the youngest, Doris, is teased, unquestionably an insult and not a legitimate path towards empowerment. Unlike her mother, she actually does have psychic powers, and is told by a priest that she's practically a young lady now, the subtext being that it's time to shape up and do what is expected of you, not dance naked with angry spirits around bonfires, or whatever it is that nasty women do in their spare time.
They spend too much time looking to the past for help and for answers, which is their downfall. As women, there is nothing for us in the past but submission and tiny boxes. Keep walking, look forward, don't stop for a second.