Dir. Israel Luna 88 mins
UK Release: 15th July 2013
Another film, another title change. In this case The Ouija Experiment has become The Realm. We’re in low budget territory too ($1,200) with the director Israel Luna perhaps being best known for the highly recommendable (seriously) Ticked Off Trannies With Knives.
We open to some friends, Brandon (Carson Underwood) and Shay heading to Michael’s place in Dallas with their camera in tow. Opening the door is LyNette (Swisyzinna) who is very welcoming and ushers the latest arrivals in whilst simultaneously introducing us to Calvin (Eric Window) as well. Michael (Justin Armstrong) really isn’t happy about Brandon using the camera, and breaks it to him about the intended use of a Ouija board that evening, and that it really would be preferred if the presence of such an item wasn’t documented on film.
Brandon perseveres with his camera and it seems Michael has relented over the idea as he has the board on the table and is going through the rules in quite a detailed manner. Before long we have four hands on the indicator and it’s swirling around the board of its own accord while we’re talking a child called Gracie who tells of her mother Lisa who she says shot a man called Joseph.
The next day Michael decides to talk to KC, a you tube buddy who is a renowned Ouija board expert about what happened the previous night. KC emphasises that they must stick to the rules, and most of all at the end of the session is to say goodbye to the board. As this specific rule has been mentioned about eight times now, it’s disappointingly predictable that they ignore it and thus unleash a little holy hell upon themselves.
All members of the group begin to experience strange occurrences either together, or when they’re alone. Also manifesting itself is a certain amount of disdain and distrust for one another, not least with Calvin who blames Michael for Shay unceremoniously dumping him. Meanwhile, everyone agrees to keep a visual record of their daily life as the realisation that Gracie, the child they communicated with via the Ouija board, may well be present in Michael’s house.
The Realm has a lot to like about it. The dialogue for the first part of the film is pretty relentless and very naturalistic, almost with an ad-libbed and unrehearsed quality. Some of the lines they deliver are great, and the interaction between the characters is great to watch. However, this does make them prone to run away with it somewhat and you tend to wish that there had been a stricter edit with the excess conversation curbed. By the time the Ouija spirit is let loose, it’s done so relatively effectively relying on POV footage picking up a shadow here and a slight movement there. It’s subtle and that may well be a stumbling block to your average horror Joe. For me, it suited the film, and any kind of gore-soaked convulsing would have been ill-judged. Everyone knows Witchboard is the king of the Ouija board movies, but The Realm is a worthy addition to the sub-genre, and judging it based on its tiny budget, you have to admit it’s a damn fine effort.