Goldner explained the filmmakers are keeping two operating principles in mind while creating a movie around a game in which players ask questions and attempt to communicate with otherworldly spirits: one, be careful what you wish for; and two, is Ouija just a game or is there something deeper and more sinister going on?
“Half of the people that play Ouija as a séance think it’s just a game,” said Goldner. “The other half thinks it’s much more serious than that. So that idea, is this real or is this just sort of imagined? Is this something that’s done by the participants or is this something that’s really from beyond?”
“Because of course breaking through to the other side is something we’re all kind of interested in,” he continued. “It’s such an intriguing idea, and that’s something we want to explore in this movie.”
How might the film’s characters get swept up into the territory of the creepy Great Beyond? “In Ouija you ask questions and then you get these answers,” Goldner told us. “And sometimes these answers are unintended answers. So be careful what you ask, that’s the element of the game that I think is so fun. You sort of use that insight about really playing Ouija as the jumping off point for a story for a movie, and then you link it to something much bigger.”
That producers are willing exploring—and subjecting the film’s characters to—horror movie conventions is the surest indication that “Ouija” will not be geared toward the elementary school set. Indeed, Goldner is ever mindful of the deep connection his audience feels toward a board game that has been delivering late-night chills and thrills for generations.
“People out there really take it pretty seriously and I think that’s the fun of it,” he said. “Everybody, especially in fact young teenage women as they grow up and go through their teens—have all had a Ouija story. They’ve all gotten together for a sleepover that’s maybe gotten a little too scary. They can all remember back.”
If Goldner has any doubts about adapting a mere board game into a cinematic blockbuster, the exec wasn’t tipping his hand. In fact, he name-checked another Hasbro toy that led to a huge box office success: “Just like in ‘Transformers,’” he said, “it was always about ‘more than meets the eye.’”