Ouija: Origin of Evil

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Ouija: Origin of Evil
Ouija two xxlg.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Flanagan
Written by
  • Mike Flanagan
  • Jeff Howard
Based on
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Fimognari
Edited byMike Flanagan
Music byThe Newton Brothers
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • October 21, 2016 (2016-10-21) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$81.7 million[3]

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 was released in the United States on October 21, 2016, by Universal Pictures. The film grossed over $81 million worldwide and received positive reviews from critics, 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 reeling over the recent death of Roger, Alice's husband and the kids' father. Alice incorporates a Ouija board into her readings and unknowingly contacts a spirit named Marcus that begins to possess Doris.

Alice receives 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 in the basement wall containing a pouch of cash. When she gives the money to her mother, the family has a Ouija session. When the board answers a question only Roger would know the answer to, a thrilled Alice begins believing that they are in contact with him.

Soon, Doris becomes fully possessed by the spirit. Lina, 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 Hogan, her school principal. Troubled, Father Tom visits them for a Ouija session under the pretense of contacting his dead wife Gloria. He later explains to them 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. 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 in the house's basement. These spirits have been watching the family since the day they moved in.

Doris kills Lina's new boyfriend Mikey when he comes to visit. Father Tom, Alice, and Lina burn the Ouija board; Father Tom finds the secret room where the experiments were conducted, and is possessed by the spirits, only to be killed later by Doris. Alice is captured, while Roger's spirit carries an unconscious Lina to her bed. Recalling earlier when her doll's mouth was stitched shut by her father's spirit "to shut out the voices" for Doris, Lina realizes she must sew Doris' mouth shut to quiet the spirits' voices. She sews Doris' mouth shut but kills Doris in the process.

Doris wakes up as a ghost and is happily reunited with her father. The spirits possess Lina and stab Alice. Alice tells Lina that it was not her fault before dying, leaving Lina devastated. Lina is committed in a mental hospital for the suspected murder of her mother and disappearance of her sister. Alone in her room, she creates a Ouija board on the floor with her blood and tries to summon Doris but summons an evil spirit in Doris’ form instead.

In a post-credits scene, 47 years later in 2014, a now elderly and still institutionalized Lina receives a visit from someone claiming to be her niece.



Although the first film in the Ouija series was a success commercially, its critical reception was less than stellar. As a result, Jason Blum wanted to make a film that was significantly different from the original.[4] This appealed to director Mike Flanagan who stated in an interview that he has an "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.[4] 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 subtle references to the original to welcome new viewers while also entertaining fans of the original.[5]

The 1980 movie The Changeling was an influence on the film. Flanagan screened the earlier film for his director of photography "like ten times". He watched such horror classics 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 made during the 1970s, using only technology that would only have been available at the time.[4]

Production in Los Angeles commenced in September 2015 and wrapped in October 2015.[2] The main cast was announced in September 2015[6][7][8] with principal photography beginning that same month, which ran to October 21, 2015.[9][10] Post-production on the film began on October 31, 2015.

Universal Pictures used its 1963–90 logo, designed by Universal Title and Optical for MCA Inc., to open and promote the film.


The Newton Brothers (replacing Anton Sanko, who composed the first film) composed the prequel. The soundtrack was released by Back Lot Music on October 21, 2016.


In April 2015, it was announced that the film would be released on October 21, 2016.[11]

Box office[edit]

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.[3]

The film opened alongside Boo! A Madea Halloween, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and I'm Not Ashamed, and was expected to gross around $15 million from about 3,168 theaters in its opening weekend.[12][13] It ended up grossing $14.1 million (compared to its predecessor's $19.9 debut), finishing third at the box office.[14]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 83% based on reviews from 126 critics, with an average rating of 6.4/10, 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."[15] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100 based on reviews from 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale, the same as its predecessor.[14]

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."[17] 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."[18] 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."[19] 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."[20]

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."[21]


  1. ^ "Ouija: Origin of Evil (15)". British Board of Film Classification. October 6, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b McDonald, Adrian (May 2017). "2016 Feature Film Study" (PDF). Film L.A. Feature Film Study. Film L.A. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Schager, Nick (October 19, 2016). "How This Horror Director Is Reinvigorating the Genre By Returning It to Its Roots". Esquire. Hearst Communications. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  5. ^ Connelly, Brendon (October 21, 2016). "Mike Flanagan interview: Ouija: Origin Of Evil, Halloween". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Busch, Anita (September 17, 2015). "'Ouija 2' Underway With Elizabeth Reaser Joining Horror Film". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Ford, Rebecca (September 18, 2015). "'Ouija 2' Rounds Out Cast With Henry Thomas, Lulu Wilson (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  8. ^ Evans, Greg (September 21, 2015). "Consult The Board: 'Ouija 2' Rounds Out Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  9. ^ SSN Insider Staff (September 11, 2015). "On the Set for 9/11/15: Matt Damon Starts on Jason Bourne Sequel, Shailene Woodley Wraps Divergent Series: Allegiant". SSN Insider. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Heuermann, Sierra (October 23, 2015). "With the amazing director Mike Flanagan! That's a picture wrap on Ouija 2! 💀🎬📽". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 26, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Petski, Denise (April 30, 2015). "Newly Retitled 'Ouija' Sequel A Go For October 2016 – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  12. ^ "Can Ben Affleck's 'The Accountant' Be An Asset For Weak Fall Box Office? – Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. October 12, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  13. ^ "'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' to battle 'Ouija' sequel and 'Boo! A Madea Halloween' at box office". Los Angeles Times. October 18, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  14. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 23, 2016). "'Madea' To Push Well Past $27M As 'Jack Reacher' Takes $22M to $23M; 'Joneses' Can't Keep Up – Sun. AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved October 10, 2020. with its C CinemaScore (pretty usual score for horror films these days, and the same as its predecessor).
  15. ^ "Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  16. ^ "Ouija: Origin of Evil Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  17. ^ Rife, Katie (October 20, 2016). "Ouija: Origin Of Evil is much better than it needs to be". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  18. ^ Henderson, Odie (October 21, 2016). "Ouija: Origin of Evil". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  19. ^ Dileo, Adam (October 18, 2016). "Ouija: Origin of Evil Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  20. ^ Erbland, Kate (October 18, 2016). "'Ouija: Origin of Evil' Review: A Horror Prequel That's Way Scarier Than It Looks". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  21. ^ Champagne, Jimmy (October 18, 2016). "[Review] 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' is a Heartfelt Prequel that Expertly Outdoes its Predecessor". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

External links[edit]