Back in 2014, Universal Pictures, Platinum Dunes, and Blumhouse Productions teamed up with toy company Hasbro to create a horror film based on the classic Ouija board game. Despite being absolutely ravaged by critics – the film holds a dubious rating of 7 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes – Ouija took off like a rocket at the box office, bringing in a whopping $103.5 million worldwide on a minuscule production budget of only $5 million. Naturally, this led to the creation of a follow-up effort, in this case a prequel entitled Ouija: Origin of Evil.
All four companies are once again involved, and the budget is once again tiny, albeit slightly higher at $6 million. Now, Universal has released the first full trailer for Origin of Evil, which can be watched above.
While one couldn’t have really blamed the studios involved for choosing to simply copy what earned them so much money the first time around, there is evidence that the people behind Ouija: OoE are making real efforts to try and avoid such a disastrous critical response this time out. For starters, Stiles White – writer/director of the first film – wasn’t brought back for the prequel, and has been replaced by horror veteran Mike Flanagan.
Flanagan first earned genre acclaim for his atmospheric debut indie feature Absentia, before making the leap to Hollywood for 2013’s mind-bending haunted mirror flick Oculus. His most recent thriller Hush has been earning raves on Netflix as well. In addition to directing Ouija: OoE, Flanagan also co-wrote the script with his Oculus partner Jeff Howard. In short, the man has some horror credibility at this point, unlike White, then a first time director best known for writing critical duds like Knowing and Boogeyman.
Ouija: Origin of Evil also represents an almost entirely fresh start for the franchise from a plot perspective, centering on a brand new cast of characters and moving the setting from present day to 1965 Los Angeles. The story follows a widow (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters (the older of which is played by Oculus’ Annalise Basso).
When mom brings home a ouija board for what she assumes will be some harmless laughs, younger daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson) finds herself serving as an unwilling conduit for dark forces, forces which seem to get more and more dangerous as time goes on. Brought in to help the family is a young priest (E.T. star Henry Thomas), but he can only do so much. If Doris is too be saved, it’s her family that will have to save her.
Will Ouija: Origin of Evil be a better film than the original? It seems possible, especially with Flanagan steering the ship. Either way though, Universal and its production partners are definitely hoping they have another $100 million hit on their hands.
Ouija: Origin of Evil possesses U.S. theaters on October 21, 2016.
Source: Universal Pictures