“Ouija,” the movie based on the famous spirit board of the same name, is coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 3rd. FGN has the pleasure of making contact with the spirit world at the exclusive release party in Hollywood, complete with our own chance to see what those on the other side had to say.
The movie “Ouija” centers around a group who after losing one of their close friends, Debbie, discovered a spirit board in her room and decide to try and make contact to say their farewells. But eventually, as they begin to face the consequences of their actions, realize that whatever they contacted had a much more sinister design in mind.
The evening began with a scavenger hunt that took its participants around famous Hollywood and Highland hot spots. Although a few of the clues were more modern, it was fascinating to search through the remnants of old Hollywood and learn more about the history of Los Angeles. Jason Blum, producer of “Ouija,” was in attendance to announce the winners of the scavenger hunt, who received their own personal Ouija board to take home, among various other gifts generously supplied by Blumhouse and Universal Pictures. The hunt had ended at the famous Hollywood bar Boardner’s, (Ouija “Boardner’s,” rather, at least for the evening,) known to be haunted itself. It is said that one of the owners, Steve Boardner, who died of a heart attack there, still makes sure his bar is running smoothly. The most famous of ghostly visitors though is the infamous Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia, who was seen one of the last times before her death at the location.
Once inside, we were met with a life-size Ouija board, specialty-themed drinks for the evening and the most vast collection of spirit boards ever seen. With so many gateways to the other side, how could one resist not trying to make contact themselves? Enter Robert Murch, the movie’s Ouija board consultant and creator of “Ouijacon,” a paranormal conference which is the first of its kind in Baltimore, Maryland. He was kind enough to host seances throughout the evening, explaining its mechanics and history. I was able to sit down with the lovely Mr. Murch, whose laid-back style and friendly air is a far cry from what someone would initially think a paranormal expert would be like.
Raised an Orthodox Jew, Murch developed his interested in the supernatural as a child. “In every Orthodox religion, the belief in spirits or demons or angels is part of the story,” Rob explained, “and the great thing in Orthodox religion is you’re very comfortable with it, it just is.” That, combined with creature feature movies he’d go to see thanks to his grandmother, planted the seed very early. In 1986, after one of these movie dates introduced him to, “Witchboard,” a very popular spirit board movie of the time, it was confirmed that all things concerning the other side would be a personal passion of his.
Murch was very excited that director Stiles White and wife Juliet Snowden were writing a Ouija-centric movie. White, a Houston native, was excited for the challenges and satisfaction of working on the film. A fan of the slasher icons of the 70’s and 80’s, he wanted “Ouija” to have a neighborhood feel to it. “These kids are walking with each other to school, they’re walking to each other’s houses,” he explains. As for any paranormal instances on set, White told us that although there was nothing that happened, you could feel the atmosphere was very old in the house they shot in.
“It had a lot of history. It had been built in the 1890’s, and I think the house had been used for various purposes throughout the years. I believe it had been a home for ‘wayward women’ at one point,” he Laughed. “But it had definitely felt like a lot of souls had passed through the doors.” The movie also was fortunate enough to find a location to actually shoot the basement scenes in, when usually a set must be constructed. “No real basement in life ever looks like the ‘horror movie basement’ that you need. Well, this house had that basement!” He continued, “We go down into this basement, and it’s like, ‘I think we need to rewrite the third act. Because I think it’s taking place right here.’” It was the fun of rolling with these kind of opportunities presented to them that made the making of “Ouija” so enjoyable.
Bianca Santos, who stars as Isabelle in “Ouija,” also raved about the process of making the film. “I think Ouija is the ‘feel-good horror’ if there ever was one,” joking that she had just coined the phrase. “Being scared is a thrill. Some people skydive. Some people watch horror movies. I think it takes you out of your regular life and takes you into these uncomfortable zones. It’s like being on a roller coaster.”
In regards to her thoughts on the supernatural after working on the movie, Santos was intrigued by people’s reactions. “When you say the word ‘Ouija,’ people start telling you all the weird stories they have. Either it’s happened to them personally, or it’s happened to a friend of a friend. And for me, it opens up the possibility that there is this other realm.”
“Ouija” hits DVD and Blu-Ray on February 3rd, and is available on digital formats. Special features included on the Blu-Ray are “The Spirit Board: An Evolution,” “Icon of the Unknown,” and “Adapting the Fear.”
Robert Murch’s 1st annual “Ouijacon” is in Baltimore, Maryland, April 23rd-25th, 2015. For more information and to reserve your tickets, please visit www.tbhs.org.