When developing Ouija: Origin of Evil, Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum and Platinum Dunes’ Michael Bay, producers Brad Form and Andrew Fuller were excited to work with Hasbro Studios on the opportunity to expand dramatically the cryptic world of the mystical board. For this terrifying chapter that would explore the origin of evil in one small town, they would be trusting the franchise with a filmmaker known for work that is as innovative as it is heart-racing.
Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board this Halloween, Universal Pictures’ Ouija: Origin of Evil tells a terrifying new tale as the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit that opened at No. 1.
The production team approached visionary filmmaker Mike Flanagan, who created Blumhouse’s 2014’s hit Oculus and this year’s hold-your-breath thriller Hush. They gauged his interest in crafting a chapter that delved into so much more of the legend of the board…as well as putting his unique stamp on the series.
Flanagan felt it would be fascinating to explore the superstitious culture of the late 1960s’ Ouija for this chapter, as well as what secrets laid buried beneath one family’s home…only to be unlocked through the board. The horror maestro and his equally talented writing partner, Jeff Howard, imagined the tale of sisters Doris and Lina Zander, who grow terrified the more they learn about the family home they share with their mother, Alice.
Blum explains that when Alice begins using the Ouija board in her séances, she thinks it’s great for business. He notes: “In the beginning, Alice is not discovering anything evil, and it actually seems like it’s a great thing. She thinks that she’s performing this amazing service where—if you have someone in your life who’s gone—you can come use the Ouija board and connect with them. Through Doris you can talk to people who are no longer with us in this world. Initially it seems like it’s not only good for business, but good for people too.”
“There was a lot of discussion about making a direct sequel to the first film and expanding upon that narrative,” explains Form, “but that felt like the easy answer. When we took a hard look at the source material, we began to see that the story was right in front of us. Who was the real ‘DZ’ who was haunting our characters in the first movie, and what had been done to her so long ago that turned her into the twisted spirit seeking out revenge upon anyone who inhabited her home?”
Fuller, who serves as Bay and Form’s production partner at Platinum Dunes, shares how the film’s dramatic themes appeal to a broad base of moviegoers, and that it was of utmost importance to all involved to make this a story about a broken family…and not just a ghost story. “If you strip away the supernatural elements, you’ll find a family going through something extremely tragic and then extremely frightening,” he says. “Audiences who wouldn’t necessarily seek out a horror film will connect to this character-driven story.”
So notes Form, a thriller centered on a Ouija board made the perfect vehicle for relatable horror. “The idea that we could wrap a film around this intense desire to contact those on the other side was irresistible, and Ouija boards are so specific to that,” he concludes. “Even people who don’t believe in spirits have such a strong reaction to the game. This game has the power to turn non-believers into believers, even if only for a moment.”
Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 26, “Ouija: Origin of Evil” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.