Studio: ITN Distribution
Director: Derek Presley
Writer: Cody Berry, Tom Zembrod, Derek Presley
Producer: Israel Luna, Tom Zembrod, Todd Jenkins
Stars: Mason Dauti, Marissa Chibli, Amanda Knapic, Dillon Vineyard, Aaron Green, Abby Joy, Todd Jenkins, Cliff McClelland, Cody Berry, Tom Zembrod
An evil entity stalks a Halloween haunt after five friends play the game ‘Charlie Charlie’ and summon an invisible spirit.
I’m inclined to scoff at the notion that anyone might actually mistake low-rent DTV effort “Ouija 3: The Charlie Charlie Challenge” for the third entry in Blumhouse’s theatrically released “Ouija” series. Except at least one IMDb user review legitimately confused “Krampus 2: The Devil Returns,” DIY drivel clearly made in a backyard with couch cushion change, for an authentic sequel to Universal’s multimillion dollar “Krampus,” so I suppose anything is possible.
The movie is actually “Charlie Charlie,” a cheapo production from the people who previously released “The Ouija Experiment” (review here) and “The Ouija Resurrection: Ouija Experiment 2” (review here). Hearing a timing opportunity knocking, “Charlie Charlie” turned itself into “Ouija Experiment 3” in name only, yet seemingly “forgot” to include the ‘Experiment’ part of that title.
Want an even better kicker? Get this. There isn’t a Ouija board anywhere in “Ouija 3: The Charlie Charlie Challenge.” The word ‘Ouija’ is heard on a TV newscast in the background when an anchor describes the ‘Charlie Charlie’ game. But if you’re expecting to see a glass-eye planchette and an alphabet board, like the one composing the gravestone on the movie’s VOD and DVD art, you’re going to be disappointed.
Not that it makes a difference. If you watch “Ouija 3: The Charlie Charlie Challenge,” you’re in for disappointment no matter what.
“This is how all bad horror movies start,” says one character early in the movie, approximately 20 minutes after you’ve already said it to yourself. He is talking about the premise of five friends foolishly deciding to play a game that urban legend claims can conjure a demon. You’ll be referencing woozily woeful performances from amateurs who have never acted before, and are unlikely to again, as well as a plot outline so tissue-thin you could blow your nose in it and incessantly irritating music somewhere between one of Richard Band’s old Full Moon compositions and the score for a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.
The ‘Charlie Charlie’ challenge is kind of like Ouija, I guess, in the way that donut filling is kind of like fruit. ‘Charlie Charlie’ is a derivation of a Spanish game involving a pair of Yes/No options written on paper and two pencils positioned to spin on top of each other when someone breathes or the table shakes-- I mean, when “the other side” is contacted. The game gained some viral notoriety online in 2015 as urban legend added the demon Charlie to the mythos, even though Charlie is an English name native neither to Spain nor Mexico.
Anyway, a Halloween haunt proprietor who speaks like a wrestler gargling wet sand decides that to drum up business for his failing attraction, he is going to exploit a local tragedy where two sorority girls died taking the ‘Charlie Charlie’ challenge. Guests are invited to pay $20 to play the game inside his haunt, something they could do at home for free, except here they have the ambiance of movable plywood walls and a whopping three haunt actors in makeup to further pump their blood.
The five friends: a glasses-wearing bookworm, a can’t-be-bothered bitchy girl, a distracted scatterbrain, and two others too passionlessly portrayed to have personalities, fork over the cash and accept the dare. Pencils spin, slight panic ensues, and “Ouija 3,” or “The Charlie Charlie Challenge” or whatever you want to call it, runs another hour on an empty tank, having no idea what to do with a horror movie other than having a bunch of bodies creeping slowly around a building before screaming “aah!” and coming under attack. By the way, the conveniently invisible “demon” is simply a handheld camera with a fog filter running in first-person toward victims who fall on the floor and die offscreen.
Frivolous filler extends the movie to feature length. Subplot B concerns a middle-aged couple who comes to bone in the parking lot. But the man can’t get an erection so they drive away without incident after painfully improvising an argument. Subplot C features a lazy lawman dispatched to the scene. When it comes time for his second segment, the sheriff is still napping. Not only can he not be bothered to investigate, he can’t be bothered to be even peripherally involved in the story.
I can’t be bothered to care about this movie. Consider one star out of ten the equivalent of a participation trophy. Technically, “Ouija 3” qualifies as a movie, so that much was accomplished. Someone at least knew the basics of lighting a set, operating a camera, and most importantly, how to get Amazon to sell this flop of a product and Redbox to rent it. Now if only someone knew as much about compelling scripting, convincing characters, creating scares, or comedy that isn’t casually racist, “Charlie Charlie” might have something other than a misleading ‘Ouija’ connection as its main means of acquiring an audience.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 10