OUIJAGEIST **** UK 2018 Dir: John R Walker. 77 mins
Shot on location in Dudley and Switzerland, this is a witty, delightfully British spin on the 21st century possession cycle written by Steve Hardy and Darrell Buxton. While an overseas prologue hints at a massacre involving a missing Swiss banker, back in the West Midlands single mum Lois Wilkinson – coping with a baby and a loser / stoner ex – ill-advisedly dabbles with a “Witchboard” retrieved by her dog from the garden of her new home. Loyal mum Lesley Scoble (one of the kids in VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, reprising a role from Walker and Hardy’s earlier AMITYVILLE PLAYHOUSE) provides support when a curse is unwittingly unleashed.
What follows isn’t ground breaking in genre terms, as OMEN-inspired “accidents” provide equal-opportunity dangers for pets, friends and babies, but the local colour makes it huge fun. Characters refer to the British tradition of blaming “bloody kids” and find comfort during supernatural peril in plates of French Fancies and packets of chocolate digestives. Curses are dismissed as “bloody rubbish”, Basil Exposition-style “experts” are written off for their “mumbo jumbo” and a chirpy window cleaner is harassed by his own, possessed hose. In a highlight, traumatised kids look on as one character projectile vomits his cup of tea (with four sugars) at a greasy spoon. Nigel Buckley steals all his scenes as a movie-buff priest inspired by THE EXORCIST’s Lt. Kinderman, offering an enthusiastic take on POLTERGEIST II and participating in a wonderful visual gag that puts a droll spin on a famous moment from the original POLTERGEIST (“I came in and hoovered…”). Refreshing humour aside, the movie also takes time to flesh out an appealing, likeable heroine – played with a natural screen presence by newcomer Wilkinson – and bows out with a circular downbeat ending in the tradition of its 1970’s forebears.
Review by Steven West