Monday, October 22, 2012

Kevin Tenney's "Witchboard 2"



Not letting a good idea die once, Kevin Tenney extends his Ouija board fetish into yet another mediocre horror outing. If you missed the first film, do not worry, these films are not connected.

Ami Dolenz is Paige, a cute as a button accountant who longs to be an artist. Paige moves into a loft in a building run by burnt out hippie Elaine (Laraine Newman) and lecherous lush Jonas (Christopher Michael Moore). Paige is also escaping the clutches of her overbearing cop ex-boyfriend Mitch (Timothy Gibbs). The first day there, while unpacking, Paige comes across a Ouija board in a closet, and immediately begins using it. She also immediately comes into contact with a spirit named Susan, who used to live in the same loft apartment. Susan keeps claiming she was murdered, yet angry Mitch cannot seem to find any death record.

Jonas and Elaine's nephew, Russell (John Gatins), takes a liking to Paige. He asks her to pose for him, just like Susan did. Paige agrees, as her personality begins to change. As we remember from the first film, if you crank up the ol' Ouija on your own, weird things start to happen. Cute Paige turns a little naughty, cussing at coworkers and calling in sick. She starts dressing a little more provocatively (yes!) and becomes her own independent person.

Jonas is killed in a freakish boiler accident, and Susan keeps leaving clues on the Ouija. Apparently spirits are not the best spellers, and Russell and Paige must decipher Susan's cryptic words. As Russell begins begging off the case, Mitch wants to help Paige and get back in to her good graces.

As Mitch gets closer to finding Susan's burial site, Tenney comes alive with an incredible action scene. Susan's spirit takes out the brakes on Mitch's giant Suburban, and he barrels out of control on the streets of southern California. Watching this massive vehicle driving around like a Tonka toy is a sight to behold, and the film's best part.

Mitch is temporarily out of commission, and Susan's spirit inhabits Paige's body. In the fiery finale, the facts behind her murder are exposed, and we find out Susan is not the angelic spirit we were led to believe.

First off, Ami Dolenz is cute and sexy. She does not do any nude scenes, but her lovely clothes get smaller and smaller as the film goes on, and this seems right to me! Dolenz's acting suffers because Tenney changes her too quickly. In one scene she is sugar and spice, in the next she is wearing short shorts and a halter top into the woods to dig up a body. Gibbs as Mitch is ruggedly handsome and should be doing more than this type of stuff. Gatins has broken into screenwriting and he is a little too eager to play the red herring here. Julie Michaels is okay as Susan, until Tenney begins giving her "funny" lines and puns toward the end, ruining any menace she musters. Laraine Newman is so embarassing as hippie Elaine, I felt bad that this is where this talented comedienne's career has ended up.

Tenney has an annoying habit here that he did not show in the first "Witchboard" film. He has Dolenz read every letter of every Ouija reading, and announcing the word at the end. Can the audience not spell? If you ask a spirit how it died and it begins to spell M-U-R-D-, does anyone out there doubt it is going for "murder" and not, say, "Murdoch" or a backward "drum"? Every word is spelled and sounded, I thought I was watching a sexy episode of "The Electric Company."

Tenney's direction is better here, he works his budget around to highlight some decent effects and the aforementioned action. His script is lousy, and the cast seems to sense it. Watch what Susan looks like, watch what Jonas looks like, and then try hard to believe these two were having an affair. Tenney sets up Paige's work scenario, where she is up for a promotion, but he never tells us what happens with the new job or the coworker she yells at.

In the end, "Witchboard 2" is exactly on par with "Witchboard." This means I had the same recommendation as the first film- no recommendation. (*) out of five stars.