‘Witchboard’ is a Dated, Cheesy Masterpiece (Review)
Written By: Lois Kennedy
Director: Kevin Tenney
Cast: Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite
Linda and Jim are a couple having a party when their respective ex-boyfriend ex-best friend Brandon whips out his Ouija board. They make the acquaintance of the spirit of a boy named David. Linda is charmed by the experience, and finds herself talking to David by herself, which is a no-no because it opens her up to possession. Unfortunately, David is not the innocent he makes himself out to be. It’s up to Jim and Brandon to save Linda from evil.
It’s not scary in the least. There are a lot of jump scares; Jim can’t seem to go five minutes without startling someone. The ghost’s main method of scaring besides throwing people out of windows is moving stuff. In one scene he throws a knife at the floor and knocks over a convenient open bottle of ketchup. In addition, there is absolutely nothing suspenseful about waiting for a board to spell stuff: “H…e…r…Who is her?!” Shots from the ghost’s point of view don’t grab me, either. However, the scene when Linda finally does get possessed is amazing, even with one-liners: after Jim tells her he wants to help her, Linda responds, “Fine, then stop moving.” Linda, who was up until now for the most part sweet and unassuming, has become a furious demon with no mercy. Not to mention that she looks majorly hot.
Then why watch it? The acting and special effects are competent. It’s not good enough to be scary, but it’s not bad enough to be painful to watch—it’s a lot of fun, especially for fans of the 1980s. I have to admit that this is an extremely nostalgic movie for me. When I was a kid, my older sisters and I would poke around my mother’s VHS collection of movies she recorded off of HBO—this is one of my first horror movies. I loved it then, and I still love it. I love the synth pop soundtrack, I love the ridiculous ’80s slang like “Oh, man, multiple sadness” and “grody.” I love the silly Valley Girl psychic with red and purple hair.
Multiple theorists have posited that Jim and Brandon have a thing for each other, and I can’t say as I disagree. They do a lot of passionate gazing into each other’s eyes, and Jim feels a lot more for Brandon than he does for Linda. As a kid, it went over my head how the movie is much more about Jim than Linda. Jim’s emotional journey and reconciliation with Brandon is the focal point of the movie. Linda isn’t much more than a pretty face in the background (with a brief full-frontal nude scene).
Check it out if you’re in the mood for a time when people used books for research and they could smoke in hospital waiting rooms.
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