Ouija: Origin of Evil
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Ouija: Origin of Evil is a 2016 American supernatural horror film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan and written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard. The film is a prequel to the 2014 film Ouija and stars Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, and Henry Thomas. A widow and her family introduce a Ouija board into their phony seance business, thereby inviting a spirit that possesses the youngest daughter.
|Ouija: Origin of Evil|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Flanagan|
|Music by||The Newton Brothers|
|Edited by||Mike Flanagan|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$81.7 million|
The film was released on October 21, 2016, by Universal Pictures, grossing over $81 million. It received positive reviews, with many praising it as a significant improvement over its predecessor.
In 1967 Los Angeles, a young widow named Alice Zander works out of her suburban home as a spiritual medium, accompanied by her daughters, 15-year-old Paulina "Lina" and 9-year old Doris. The family is still reeling over the recent death of Roger, Alice's husband and the kids' father. At Lina's suggestion, Alice incorporates a Ouija board into her readings. While trying out the board, she unknowingly contacts a spirit named Marcus that begins to possess Doris.
Alice receives a notice that the bank intends to foreclose on their home. Doris contacts the board for help, believing she is communicating with her dead father. The spirit leads her to a secret compartment behind the basement wall containing a pouch of cash. When she gives the money to her mother, the family has a Ouija session, believing they can contact Roger. When the board answers a question only Roger would know the answer to, a thrilled Alice begins believing that they are in contact with her dead husband.
Soon, Doris becomes possessed by a shadowy spirit. Lina, who is becoming disturbed by the changes in her sister, finds papers written by Doris in fluent Polish, a language she does not know, and brings them to Father Tom to translate. Troubled, Father Tom visits them for a Ouija session under the pretense of contacting his dead wife Gloria. Although the session appears to be successful, Father Tom later explains to Alice and Lina that Doris did not contact Gloria. Instead, for every question he asked, she read his thoughts and repeated the answers he was thinking in his mind. He reveals that the pages are entries written by a Polish immigrant named Marcus, who was taken captive during World War II by a sadistic doctor who conducted experiments on him and other captives inside the house's basement. These spirits knew answers that only Roger would know because they have been watching the family since the day they moved in.
Meanwhile, Doris kills Lina's boyfriend Mikey. When they find the body, Father Tom, Alice, and Lina burn the Ouija board in the furnace. Father Tom finds the secret room where the experiments were conducted, and is possessed by the spirits. He attacks Alice and Lina, but momentarily seizes clarity, only to be killed by Doris. Alice is captured, while Roger's spirit carries an unconscious Lina to her bed. Recalling an earlier moment when her doll's mouth was stitched by her father's spirit "to shut out the voices", she realizes she must sew Doris' mouth shut to quiet the spirits' voices and stop the evil. She fights off the embodied evil spirits and sews her mouth shut but kills Doris in the process. The ghost Doris wakes up and Roger appears and Doris is happily reunited with her father. Lina explains to Alice that she had to sew her mouth in order to stop the voices. The spirits then possesses Lina and stabs Alice with a knife. The spirit unpossesses Lina. Lina is shocked to see what she did. Alice tells Lina that it wasn’t her fault but hers for getting the board and also tells Lina that she loves her. Alice then sees Roger and Doris happily together watching them and then dies, leaving Lina in an emotional breakdown.
Lina is later on committed in a mental hospital for the suspected murder of her mother and sister. She tells her doctor that she knows she will never be alone again. As Lina is left in a mental hospital room for her, she tears up half of the carpet, showing a floor and makes her own Ouija board, using her blood for the letters, and a piece of lens from a pair of circular glasses to make the Ouija Oracle symbol. Lina uses the make-shift Ouija to summon Doris's spirit, which only succeeds in calling forth Marcus in Doris' form.
In a post-credits scene, 47 years later, a now elderly and still institutionalized Lina receives a visit from someone claiming to be her niece.
- Elizabeth Reaser as Alice Zander
- Annalise Basso as Paulina "Lina" Zander
- Lin Shaye as Old Paulina Zander
- Lulu Wilson as Doris Zander
- Henry Thomas as Father Tom Hogan
- Parker Mack as Michael "Mikey" Russell
- Kate Siegel as Jenny Browning
- Doug Jones as Ghoul Marcus
- Halle Charlton as Ellie
- Alexis G. Zall as Betty
- Sam Anderson as Mr. Browning
- Ele Keats as Ellie's Mom
- Nicholas Keenan as Walter
- Michael Weaver as Roger Zander
- Umran Mustafa as Keith Hemmingway
Production in Los Angeles commenced in September 2015 and wrapped in October 2015. Although the first film in the Ouija series was a success commercially the critical reception was less than stellar. As a result, Jason Blum wanted to make a film that was significantly different than the original. This appealed to director Mike Flanagan who stated in an interview that he has "allergy to sequels" Blum let Flanagan work on the type of horror film he wanted which was a period piece that dealt with a family dynamic. There was some talk from the beginning about whether or not the film should have any connections at all to the original, but Flanagan himself was opposed to this, and instead opted to make references to the original subtle to welcome new viewers while also entertaining fans of the original.
The 1980 movie The Changeling was a major influence on the film, with Flanagan screening the film with his director of photography "like ten times" while also watching other classics such as The Exorcist and The Watcher in the Woods. It was then that the pair hit off the idea to film the movie as if it were the 1970s, using only technology that would only have been available in that era.
The main cast was announced in September 2015 with principal photography beginning that same month, which ran to October 21, 2015. Post-production on the film began on October 31, 2015.
Universal Pictures used its 1963–90 title, designed by Universal Title and Optical for MCA Inc., to open and promote the film.
In April 2015, it was announced that the film would be released on October 21, 2016.
Ouija: Origin of Evil grossed $35.1 million in North America and $46.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $81.7 million, against a budget of $12 million.
The film opened alongside Boo! A Madea Halloween, Keeping Up with the Joneses and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and was expected to gross around $15 million from about 3,168 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up grossing $14.1 million (compared to its predecessor's $19.9 debut), finishing third at the box office.
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According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 119 reviews, with an average rating of 6.38/10, making it one of the highest-rated films to date produced by either Hasbro Studios or Platinum Dunes. The website's critics consensus reads, "Ouija: Origin of Evil swerves its franchise's planchette unexpectedly to YES with a surprisingly scary and dramatically satisfying follow-up to its lackluster predecessor." At Metacritic, which assigns and normalizes scores of critic reviews, the film holds a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale, the same as its predecessor.
Katie Rife for The A.V. Club gave the film a B and wrote that compared to its predecessor "It is better, though, in every conceivable way, from casting to story to atmosphere." Odie Henderson for RogerEbert.com gave the film three stars and called it "one overstuffed horror movie recipe, with a dash of The Exorcist and a spritz of Ghost among its tasty ingredients." Adam Dileo of IGN said "Ouija: Origin of Evil may just be the latest entrant into that small category of sequels and prequels that manage to improve upon their predecessors in every way." Kate Erbland of IndieWire called the film "genuinely frightening and smart, the rare horror prequel able to stand on its own merits and deliver a full-bodied story that succeeds without any previous knowledge or trappings." Jimmy Champagne of Bloody Disgusting called it "easily Flanagan’s best film yet" and said "Ouija: Origin of Evil is a heartfelt and genuinely frightening experience."
Film media distributor Cinedigm has released two unofficial sequels. The film Charlie, Charlie was released in 2017 on DVD with the title Ouija 3: The Charlie Charlie Challenge and the 2015 Hong Kong horror film Are You Here was released in 2018 on DVD with the title Ouija 4. This deceptive marketing was made to fool the public into believing these were sequels to two official Blumhouse Productions films.
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