Ouija: Origin of Evil is a 2016 supernatural horror film based on the board game from Hasbro, prequel to the 2014 film Ouija, and the second film by Hasbro's "Allspark Pictures" studio. Despite being related to a poorly-received horror film, it is surprisingly well-made, courtesy of being written and directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia).
The plot, set in the 1960s, revolves around the Zander family - mother Alice, older daughter Paulina (aka Lina), and younger daughter Doris. With the father deceased, Alice has recruited her children to help run a seance operation out of her house in order to raise money.
When Alice decides to add a Ouija board to the act in order to drum up interest, Doris becomes enthralled with it, discovering she is a gifted spirit medium. She uses her powers to converse with her dead father and to help customers contact their loved ones during seances. But soon, a dark, malevolent entity takes possession of her, and she begins to change - decidedly for the worse.
Please note that since this film is a prequel, spoilers on this page may also spoil twists in the original film.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Barred from the Afterlife: The spirits of the Devil's Doctor's victims are trapped in the house, unable to pass on.
- Big Bad: The demonic spirit who possesses Doris, which is implied to be the same demon the "Devil's Doctor" was in contact with.
- Big Sister Instinct: Paulina is the first one to acknowledge the creepy changes her sister is undergoing, and brings them to her mother's attention. Later, in the climax, she refuses to be left out of the attempt to save her sister despite the danger to herself.
- Contrary to her claims in the first film that her mother did it, she's also the one who kills Doris by stitching her mouth shut, in order to subdue the demonic force possessing her. It's implied this sets her real spirit free.
- Bittersweet Ending: Well, Doris' spirit is apparently set free to be with her father's - and her mother's, after a possessed Paulina kills her too. But they're both still dead, along with Father Tom and Mikey. And the demon is still impersonating Doris and using her body as a conduit, getting in contact with and corrupting an institutionalized Paulina, setting up the events of the first film.
- Bluff the Imposter: During Father Tom's reading, he tricks the demon into providing a false answer and being unable to answer another question by strongly thinking of an incorrect response and clearing his mind, respectively - proving the demon is impersonating the person they're trying to contact by reading his mind.
- Body Horror: As seen in the trailers, Doris' mouth opens impossibly wide and her back bends extremely far as she is being possessed.
- In another scene also in the trailers, Paulina's mouth stitches/melts itself shut with its own skin. It turns out to be a nightmare.
- Creepy Basement: The Zanders' basement mysteriously has an old bag full of money hidden in the walls - and human remains. And a hidden room once used for occult experiments by an escaped Nazi physician called the "Devil's Doctor."
- Creepy Child: Doris becomes one after she's possessed.
- Daylight Horror: In one memorable scene during recess at school, a possessed Doris forces a bully to slingshot a rock into his own face at point-blank range.
- Demonic Possession: Happens to Doris. And is implied to happen to Mikey, forcing him to kill himself, then briefly to Father Tom, and then again briefly to Paulina to force her to kill her mother. The ending and first film indicate Paulina at the very least remains in contact with the demon that was in her sister and may possibly be possessed herself.
- Developing Doomed Characters: This film has a much larger focus on characterization than the original - and anyone who's seen the first film knows at least a couple of the characters are DEFINITELY doomed.
- Disappeared Dad: Doris and Paulina's father died before the events of the film. Doris uses the Ouija board to attempt to contact his spirit.
- Foregone Conclusion: This being a prequel, anyone who's seen the first film knows that Doris is killed by having her mouth stitched shut to weaken the spirits and her body is left in a hidden basement room, and that Paulina kills her mother and is committed to a mental institution. And, of course, that the heroes' actions in this film fail to truly stop the demon.
- Haunted House: The Zanders' house was previously used for occult experiments by an ex-Nazi called the "Devil's Doctor," who left his victims' possessions and remains hidden in the basement walls, making the house essentially a graveyard home to all of their tormented spirits. Doris and Paulina's father's ghost is also in the house, though it's unclear whether he's trapped there or comes back from the other side.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Father Tom manages to hold off the spirits' influence long enough to push Alice through the basement door and shut himself inside. Ultimately futile, of course, but still a worthy effort.
- Hope Spot: Just as Alice dies, she sees the spirits of her late husband and Doris, apparently now freed, which might imply to anyone who isn't aware of the first movie that the horror is over. But then the film follows a mentally-damaged Paulina into a psychiatric hospital, where she attempts to summon Doris' spirit and instead conjures up the demon, impersonating her.
- Jump Scare: Perhaps not as many as the first film - and certainly fewer cheap ones - but there are still plenty here.
- Karma Houdini: There's no indication the Devil's Doctor ever paid for his crimes, either during wartime or afterwards in the Zander house.
- Kill It with Fire: The characters try to stop the evil phenomena by burning their Ouija board. It doesn't work, and the board simply reappears in their house undamaged.
- Mad Scientist: Notes written in Polish by a spirit using Doris' body detail the exploits of the "Devil's Doctor," a Nazi scientist who performed occult experiments on his victims which often involved stitching their mouths shut. After the war he escaped to America and resumed his experiments - inside the house now belonging to the Zanders.
- Mind-Control Eyes: When characters are being controlled by evil forces, their pupils and irises disappear. This doesn't happen to the bully in the schoolyard who's forced to slingshot himself, but it's possible Doris/the demon was using some sort of telekinetic ability instead.
- Mouth Stitched Shut: It's revealed the Devil's Doctor did this to the victims of his experiments, and Paulina does it to the possessed Doris in the climax in order to silence the evil voices and free her spirit. In a nightmare, Paulina's mouth "stitches" itself shut with her own skin, similar to what happened to some victims in the first film. This may have something to do with the demon, which itself has a mouth that appears stitched shut or grown over with skin.
- Never Found the Body: As viewers of the first film will know, Doris' body isn't found by the police.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The film's events are set in motion by Alice purchasing a Ouija board, which awakens Doris' powers and allows her to become possessed.
- Offing the Offspring: Subverted. In the first film, Paulina claims her mother killed Doris. In this film we find out Paulina really did it herself.
- Ouija Board: The second officially-licensed movie of the "game."
- Prequel: This film is set roughly 50 years before the first film, in the same house.
- Retcon: In the first film, the events surrounding the Zander family were said to have happened in "the late 40s or early 50s," with a briefly-shown newspaper article specifically dating them to 1952. This prequel depicts those very events, but is explicitly set in 1967.
- Retraux: The film really wants to evoke classic horror films like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist with the yellow title card, use of the old Universal logo, and even the presence of fake 'Cigarette Burns'note , this on a film shot and distributed digitally.
- Rule of Three: As in the first film, there are three rules of using the Ouija board named. They're all broken.
- Never play alone. Doris breaks this rule frequently.
- Never play in a graveyard. The Zanders' house has the bodies of an ex-Nazi occultist's victims hidden in its basement walls.
- Always say GOODBYE when you're finished.
- Self-Made Orphan: Paulina's father died before the events of the movie, and she kills her mother during the climax while briefly possessed.
- Sequel Hook: Amusingly, the ending and the post-credits scene tease the events of the already-released first film, which takes place after this one chronologically.
- Shout-Out: The Lasser Glass can be spotted in the Zanders' basement.
- Spooky Séance: The Zanders stage fake ones to make money. Once they add the Ouija board and discover Doris' powers, they become real.
- The Stinger: In a post-credits scene, we see Paulina age via time lapse into Lin Shaye. Then someone enters her room to inform her she has a visitor claiming to be her niece - the protagonist of the first film.
- Summoning Ritual: The same as in the first film; when starting the game, you're supposed to recite the phrase "As friends we've gathered, hearts are true, spirits near we call to you" and circle the board with the planchette once for each player. Subverted somewhat in a scene where Doris rushes through the ritual, omitting some of the words, and the board still works.
- Take Me Instead: When Alice sees possessed Doris whispering demonically into unconscious Paulina's ear, she pleads to be used as a vessel instead. Doris then appears behind Alice, telling her that they all are to be taken.
- Twerp Sweating: Alice's palm reading of Mikey turns into this, where she threatens to cut his "life line" if he fools around with Lina. This gives Doris' vivid description later on of what it feels like to be strangled to death a double meaning: she's telling it to Mikey, who just came downstairs from Lina's room (though they didn't have sex), and so it can easily be interpreted as her/the demon threatening him too. The demon later follows through on that threat when it does indeed strangle Mikey.