Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stiles White|
|Story by||Stiles White|
|Music by||Anton Sanko|
|Edited by||Ken Blackwell|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$103.6 million|
Ouija is a 2014 American supernatural horror film directed by Stiles White in his directorial debut, produced by Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, and Bennett Schneir and written by Juliet Snowden and White, who previously together wrote The Possession. It stars Olivia Cooke, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, and Bianca A. Santos as teenagers who have unleashed spirits from a Ouija board.
Ouija was released on October 24, 2014, by Universal Pictures. The film was a commercial success, grossing $103.6 million worldwide over a $5 million budget, but was overwhelmingly criticized by critics, with many criticizing its inconsistent tone, characters and story, but praise for Shaye's performance. A prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil, was released in 2016, and was far better critically received.
Debbie Galardi recalls playing Ouija with her best friend Laine Morris as children. In the present day, Debbie throws her Ouija board into the fire, burning it. Debbie implies to Laine that something strange happened with the Ouija board. After Laine leaves, the Ouija board reappears in Debbie's bedroom. Debbie becomes possessed and hangs herself with Christmas lights inside her home.
Laine attends Debbie's wake with her boyfriend Trevor, younger sister Sarah, friend Isabelle, and Debbie's boyfriend Pete. The five friends meet at Debbie's house and use her Ouija board to try communicating with her. Strange things happen, and a presence smashes Pete's hand and face into a mirror. Later, the friends start finding the phrase "hi friend" (a message communicated during the Ouija board session) written in different places, like Isabelle's car window, a tunnel wall, Pete's desk, and Laine's computer. Thinking Deb is trying to communicate with them, the group has another Ouija session. They then discover that they are actually in contact not with Debbie but with a spirit calling itself "DZ." Laine sees the image of a little girl with her mouth sewn shut. The girl warns them to run because her mother is coming. Laine sees an old woman, and everyone flees. Laine later learns that Deb found the Ouija board in her attic and played alone.
Isabelle is possessed and killed by being smashed into her bathroom sink and cracking her skull open. Laine and Pete search Deb's attic and find a box of old photographs that belonged to the previous residents. While researching the previous family's history, they learn of a little girl named Doris Zander who went missing, and whose mother was suspected in her disappearance. Laine visits Doris' sister, an old woman named Paulina, who is now committed to a psychiatric hospital. Paulina explains that her mother was a medium and used Doris as a vessel for the dead to speak through. Their mother went mad and sewed Doris' mouth shut before killing her. She tells Laine that there is a secret room in the house where Laine must find Doris' hidden body and unstitch her mouth in order for the girl to banish their mother. The remaining friends go back to the Galardi house, where Laine finds Doris' corpse and cuts the stitches on her mouth. Doris' mother's spirit protests, but Doris' spirit appears and chases away the ghost of her mother. Pete becomes possessed and is killed in his home, appearing as a soulless ghost with his mouth stitched up.
Laine revisits Paulina and realizes that the old woman, revealing that she was in allegiance with Doris, intentionally lied. Doris was the evil entity all along and her mother was trying to stop the friends from summoning her. The Morris's grandmother, Nona, advises the sisters to destroy Doris' body and the Ouija board at the same time. Doris' ghost throws Trevor into a swimming pool covered with a plastic canopy, trapping and drowning him. Laine and Sarah return to the Galardi house cellar, where Doris captures Sarah and prepares to sew her mouth shut. Laine plays the Ouija board alone to draw the spirit's attention. Doris starts possessing Laine, but Deb's ghost appears to help Laine defeat Doris. Sarah throws Doris' body into the furnace, and Laine throws the Ouija board, stopping the paranormal activity. Later, Laine finds that the planchette has mysteriously appeared back at her home in her bedroom. She holds it up to her eye to look inside as the screen cuts to black.
The film was announced in May 2008 with Universal attached. At one point in 2011 Universal dropped out due to budgetary concerns. Following this it was subsequently announced that the film would be produced at a lower budget  and Universal rejoined the project.
Principal photography began mid December 2013 in Los Angeles wrapped at the end of January 2014
Although shooting officially wrapped in January 2014, poor test screenings resulted in re-shoots occurring in June, which, according to Olivia Cooke, resulted in half the film being re-shot. With the reshoots, Lin Shaye was added to the film to play a newly written character, Erin Moriarty's character was removed from the film entirely, and new plot points were added or changed entirely. The most notable of changes included the character of Doris Zander's physical appearance changing from that of a burnt looking girl to a rotting, decomposing girl with stitches in her mouth.
In North America, the film was released to 2,858 theatres and earned $19,875,995 on its opening weekend (including its $911,000 gross on Thursday preview nights and $8.3 million on its opening day). at an average of $7,000 per theatre, debuting at number one at the box office ahead of newly released John Wick ($14.2 million). The film played 75% under-25 years old and 61% female on its opening weekend.
Ouija was released in five international markets and earned $1.3 million from 234 screens. The film went to number two in Malaysia ($545,000), number four in Taiwan ($331,000), number two in Singapore ($238,000) and also number four in Poland ($137,000). In its second weekend the film earned $5.7 million from 1,166 screens in 19 territories for a two weekend international total of $7.7 million. It went to number one in the UK, Indonesia and the Philippines. In the UK, the film earned $2.2 million on its opening weekend, which is the second biggest opening weekend for a horror film in 2014 only behind Annabelle ($3.1 million). Ouija made a domestic total of $50,856,010 and $52,618,000 overseas, for a worldwide total of $103,674,010.
According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 6% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 87 reviews, and average rating is 3.25/10. The website's critics consensus states: "Slowly, steadily, although no one seems to be moving it in that direction, the Ouija planchette points to NO."Metacritic, another review aggregator which assigns and normalizes scores of critic reviews, gave the film a weighted average score of 38 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a "C" grade.
The film was novelized by Katharine Turner. The novel was released on September 16, 2014.
The plot of the novel differs from the movie in many notable ways, containing an additional flashback sequence at the beginning of the book which occurs two months before Debbie dies, giving a more in-depth backstory to the main characters. Laine's father has a larger role in the novel, snapping at Sarah after she tries to sneak out of the house. There is an additional scene in the novel after the group uses the Ouija board for a second time where Sarah and Laine have a heartfelt conversation at the dinner table. There are longer sequences with Laine's grandmother Nona as well.
The message "Hi friend" from Doris in the novel appears as "Hi frend". When Isabelle approaches her car after work, instead of finding "Hi friend" written in the condensation on the inside of her car, she finds a hand print.
The characters of Pete and Isabelle also die in different ways in the novel. Pete, after seeing Doris' spirit in his room and becoming possessed, slits his wrists with an X-ACTO knife. Isabelle, after being possessed by Doris, sits in her bathtub with a plugged-in hair dryer, electrocuting herself.
The finale of the novel differs greatly from the film. Sarah is not trapped in the altar room with Doris' spirit as in the film, but rather Laine crawls down the passageway into the altar to get Doris' body. While Laine is in the passageway, Sarah is left by the furnace with the Ouija board where Doris manipulates Sarah's arm and has it twist in unnatural positions while touching the planchette. Doris uses Sarah's arm to spell out "D-I-E-F-R-E-N-D" on the board. After throwing Doris' body into the furnace with the Ouija board, Doris appears in spirit form as a normal girl, where her mother joins her. The two hold hands and disappear. Laine suddenly notices Debbie's spirit in the room. She says "Hi friend" to Laine. Laine asks if she is dead, but Debbie tells her everything is okay. Debbie says goodbye to Laine, and Laine falls unconscious.
The epilogue to the novel mirrors the film, with Laine finding the planchette in her room.
Throughout January 2015, reports of a sequel were announced. In February 2015, it was confirmed the film was in development and had no release date. Jason Blum stated "We're a ways away ..." In April 2015, it was announced that the sequel would be released on October 21, 2016. Mike Flanagan would direct and co-write the sequel with his Oculus co-writer Jeff Howard. The film would be produced by Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Jason Blum, Brian Goldner, and Stephen Davis. Annalise Basso and Kaylee Procter would star in the sequel. It was then announced that Ouija: Origin of Evil would serve as a prequel to the first film. It was released in October 2016, and unlike its predecessor, it gained far more positive reviews.