Features

Horror movies featuring the Ouija board

Writer: Casey Chong



A scene from "Ouija: Origin Of Evil".

From a supernatural entity to a terrifying boogeyman, horror movies come in many shapes and forms. Then, there is the Ouija board. Pronounced as "wee-ju", this ancient flat board has dated way back since centuries ago. The board typically contains alphabets and numbers. It comes with a planchette where the person would use it to move around the board to reveal the alphabets and/or numbers. The Ouija board is commonly utilised in many horror movies either as a main plot device or part of the storyline to call out a spirit.

Just two years ago, this ancient spirit board made its cinematic comeback in "Ouija", a low-budget supernatural horror movie that successfully grossed over US$100 million worldwide against a paltry US$5 million, albeit all the mixed responses. Not surprisingly, another "Ouija" movie had been greenlit and a prequel is born in the form of "Ouija: Origin Of Evil".

With the upcoming prequel arriving just in time for the Halloween week, we have picked six of our favourite horror movies that feature the Ouija board.

1. "Witchboard" (1986)

A possessed Linda (Tawny Kitaen) in "Witchboard".

While '80s horror movies are mostly gory and violent-centric such as "Friday The 13th", "Halloween" and the "A Nightmare On Elm Street" series, "Witchboard" does the opposite by opting on all things supernatural.

Made with a tiny budget of US$2 million, the story revolves around Linda (Tawny Kitaen) who becomes addicted to the Ouija board after her ex-boyfriend, Brandon (Stephen Nichols) introduces it to her. Soon, Linda breaks the rule by using the board all alone and eventually gets tricked by a malevolent spirit.

First-time director Kevin S. Tenney took the reins, who would then go on to direct the '80s horror cult favourite, "Night Of The Demons" two years later, eschewing the particular era's over-reliance of violence and gore effects to justify what a modern horror should look like. Apart from emphasising the supernatural aspect of the Ouija board, Tenney even delves deeper by exploring complicated relationships between Linda, Brandon, and her live-in current boyfriend, Jim (Todd Allen). Not only is Brandon Linda's ex, but he also happens to be Jim's best friend since childhood. The acting may have been average and at times amateurish while the movie isn't that scary, but "Witchboard" remains a refreshing change of pace during that era. The movie proved to be a modest success at the box-office and even spawned two sequels, "Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway" in 1993 and "Witchboard III: The Possession" in 1995.

2. "What Lies Beneath" (2000)

Diana Scarwid and Michelle Pfeiffer trying to contact a spirit with a Ouija board in "What Lies Beneath".

Though bloated in plot and too long, "What Lies Beneath" proved to be a huge box-office success totalling at US$291 million worldwide. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Harrison Ford, this supernatural mystery revolves around the wife of a university research scientist named Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is haunted by supernatural occurrences in and around her lakeside Vermont home. During one expertly-crafted scene, Claire and her friend Jody (Diana Scarwid) attempt to contact a spirit with an Ouija board. What follows next is a series of suspenseful moments including a flickering candle, a self-moving planchette and a creaking door scored to Alan Silvestri's effectively foreboding score.

3. "Bunshinsaba" (2004)

A scene from "Bunshinsaba" a.k.a. "Ouija Board".

From the South Korean horror specialist that brought you "Nightmare" (2000), "Phone" (2002) and "Apt." (2006), Ahn Byeong-Ki combines every familiar Asian horror trope with a mix of the Ouija board serving as a major plot point for "Bunshinsaba". Otherwise internationally known as "Ouija Board", the story centres on a female transfer student, Yu-jin (Lee Se-Eun), who is constantly bullied by her classmates. As a result, Yu-jin and her friends summon a curse by writing the bullies' names using an Ouija board. Despite the familiar setting, there are some scary moments expertly staged with visual panache by Ahn Byeong-Ki. Lee Se-Eun, in the meantime, stands out with her sympathetic performance as the movie's lead protagonist.

4. "Paranormal Activity" (2009)

The Ouija board mysteriously bursts into flames in a scene from "Paranormal Activity".

Throughout the six entries until its eventual conclusion of "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" in 2015, the "Paranormal Activity" series have endured a series of highs and lows in terms of its quality. Back in 2009 where it all first started, "Paranormal Activity" is often cited as one of the best found-footage horror movies ever made. Considering the fact it was actually made dirt cheap at just US$15,000 (!), the first "Paranormal Activity" made a fortune at US$193 million worldwide.

As for the story, "Paranormal Activity" involves a young couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) who both moved into a suburban home and subsequently find themselves disturbed by a series of unexplained phenomenas. The biggest novelty here is the simplicity of the horror elements used effectively in this movie. Among the most memorable moments here are the creepy scenes involving the Ouija board. Following a scene where Micah tries to contact the spirit responsible for the supernatural disturbance with an Ouija board, the board mysteriously catches fire when they are not around. Such effect may look like a cheap gimmick, but Peli manages to make that ambiguous Ouija board scene evoke a sense of foreboding dread.

5. "I Am ZoZo" (2012)

An Ouija scene in "I Am ZoZo".

Partially based on actual events, "I Am ZoZo" follows a group of young friends toying with a Ouija board on Halloween and inadvertently cast an evil demon. Although the movie received mixed responses due to its uneven direction and hammy acting, this low-budget horror movie has a particular novelty factor that separated it from most like-minded genre movies. Instead of filming the movie with a standard-issue camcorder, director Scott Di Lalla opted to use a nearly extinct Super 8 camera. Despite using old-fashioned technology, the grainy texture of the Super 8 gives the horror movie a distinct worn-out look that recalls the horror movies of yesteryear.

6. "The Pact" (2012)

A creepy scene involving the makeshift Ouija board in "The Pact".

Whereas Ouija-related horror movies often have to do with the board itself, "The Pact" sees Annie Barlow (Caity Lotz) using a combination of wooden floor (for the board), black marker (for writing down alphabet letters) and crucifix (for planchette) as a makeshift Ouija board to contact the spirit. Although that scene is actually just a small part of the movie, it was a genuinely creepy moment that further enlivened Caity Lotz's dedicated performance.

"Ouija: Origin Of Evil" opens in cinemas nationwide on 3 November 2016.

Cinema Online, 29 October 2016


Related Movies:
Ouija: Origin Of Evil (03 Nov 2016)
Ouija (23 Oct 2014)
Showtimes