How Blumhouse is reinventing the 'Ouija' series
With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 7% and a “C” CinemaScore, it’s fair to say the Stiles White-directed horror film wasn’t one of last year’s better-received fright flicks. And yet the Blumhouse-produced movie made an undeniable $100 million-plus worldwide on a $5 million budget, making a sequel seem all but certain.
So where to go with the follow-up to a film that a lot of people saw and most of those people hated? To their credit, Blumhouse seems intent on making the next film in the series -- October’s Ouija: Origin of Evil -- a more quality production by hiring a tried-and-tested auteur to take the helm. That would be Mike Flanagan, who scored a critical and commercial hit with 2013’s Oculus and won plaudits for this year’s bare-bones Netflix-premiered horror/thriller Hush, which made best possible use of its $1 million production budget (he also did some uncredited -- and unspecified -- work on the first Ouija). Not only is Origin of Evil a prequel rather than a sequel to the first film, it feels as close as possible to being a reboot without actually being dubbed as such.
“Mike really helped out on the first movie, and my thought if we were ever to make a second movie is the first person I wanted to offer it to and give it to was Mike,” said Blumhouse founder and CEO Jason Blum via phone. “I was thrilled he was interested. He was interested if he could kind of take it in a direction he wanted to…[and] if he was gonna be involved, I'd be happy for him to do whatever he wanted. And he really kind of reinvented [the series]. ...It's a really cool movie. It's a great -- it stands on its own, it works also as a sequel to Ouija, but it also, it really stands on its own in a great way.”
Not that Blum wouldn’t be happy for audiences to forget about the first movie altogether. Said his Blumhouse colleague Josh Raffel of the film: “We know how everyone feels about the first one and that it wasn't the finest hour. So that's why [we] wanted to make sure to get it right.”
On the one hand, committing to a more quality production is an admirable stance for a company to take, particularly when a lazier approach could conceivably reap the same short-term rewards. On the other, Blum and his colleagues are clearly playing the long game -- and if they want a new hugely-profitable Purge or Paranormal Activity-style franchise, it’s in their own best interests to keep the fans happy. Indeed, Blum is already mulling future installments. “I think there are a lot of different directions we could go with it," he said. "Hopefully, we'll get to continue making them.”
Guess that's up to us.
Ouija: Origin of Evil hits theaters on October 21.