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Film / Witchboard

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"Never play it alone."

Witchboard is a 1986 Horror film written and directed by Kevin S. Tenney.

At a party hosted by Linda, everybody plays with a Ouija board brought by her friend Brandon. They actually manage to contact a spirit. She fails to follow the instruction to not use the Ouija board alone, and soon finds out that the spirit she was talking to was manipulating her the whole time, and wants to control her body to walk the Earth once more.

Got two sequels, The Devil's Doorway and The Possession, respectively released in 1993 and 1995.

This film contains examples of:

  • Arch-Enemy: Malfeitor is this to Jim, since he spends the whole film tormenting him.
  • Artistic License History: Brandon claims that Ouija boards have been around since 540 BCE. The first recorded use of anything like an Ouija board was in 1100 CE, and modern ones were invented in the 1880s.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The ending teases that the brief church scene is Jim's funeral, with ambiguous music and people weeping in the pews. Turns out he survived his fall and it's his wedding to Linda.
  • Big Bad: Carlos Malfeitor is the spirit terrorizing Linda.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: When Brandon brings in Zarabeth as a medium, Jim is skeptical due to her eccentric appearance, valley girl-like speech patterns and sarcastic humor - she successfully conducts a seance with David, then is the first character to start realizing things may not be as they seem.
  • Destination Defenestration: The evil spirit throws Zarabeth through a window where she is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on a sundial.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way the spirit on the other end is first positive and friendly and then turns autocratic and abusive is reminiscent of a pattern common to much domestic abuse, or the way pimps typically recruit new workers.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Jim seems to send Malfeitor back to the spirit world by shooting the Ouija board. Later, the landlady is cleaning their apartment, and finds the board. She throws it away, saying that it's unlikely that it still works. Then the planchette moves.
  • Fan Disservice: Despite the shower scene drawing a lot of viewer attention, Tawny Kitaen portrays Linda with enough fear and pain that any potential eroticism is lost.
  • Good All Along: David is shown to not really be the spirit terrorizing Linda.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The evil spirit throws Zarabeth through a window and she is impaled on a sundial.
  • Kick the Dog: Melfeitor reveals near the end that the protagonist was his actual portal to return to Earth, and he was just terrorizing everybody else for fun.
  • MacGuffin Title: The film is centered around the titular Ouija board.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Evil spirits have a tendency to manipulate people who contact them alone by being extremely helpful at first, then intimidating them into giving up their bodies for possession.
  • Meaningful Name: Main villain Carlos Malfeitor's last name is Portuguese for "evil one."
  • Ouija Board: Spirits use them to contact the world of the living.
  • One-Word Title
  • Preppy Name: Brandon Sinclair
  • The Reveal:
    • David is not the spirit terrorizing Linda. It's a being named Malfeitor.
    • Jim is actually the portal, and Malfeitor is just terrorizing Linda to mess with him.
  • *Twang* Hello: In an act that would get you fired on any real construction site, Lloyd gets Jim's attention by throwing a carpenter's hatchet into the beam beside Jim's head.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The film was originally going to be titled Ouija before the producers learned that Ouija is a trademark of Hasbro. The title was changed, but characters within the film still refer to the device as a 'ouija board'.