Witchboard | Chicago Reader

Witchboard

Spirits of the dead communicate through Ouija board, slash a few tires, and scare the bejeezus out of everybody. Pardon the suggestion, but this may be one of the best little Z films of the threadbare mid-80s. First-time director Kevin S. Tenney camouflages his nonexistent budget by pushing his camera straight in the actors' faces and stripping his visuals of every extraneous detail. The stylization is rigorous, with tension playing in the empty corners of the frame (the mise-en-scene is mostly negative space, which the audience fills in), though Tenney's “humanizing” subtext (his characters discover their true feelings as a result of the spirit threat) ultimately detracts from the minimalist clarity of line. Still, it's a queasily adept debut (from a filmmaker who floundered thereafter). With Todd Allen, Tawny Kitaen, and Stephen Nichols.

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