Playing the pivotal roles of sisters who get embroiled in a demonic possession in Universal Pictures’ Ouija: Origin of Evil are teen stars Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us from Evil) and Annalisse Basso (Oculus), who both have done horror films prior.
In the terrifying new tale and the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit Ouija, a widowed mother named Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters Doris (Wilson) and Lina (Basso) add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter Doris is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
The filmmakers knew the role of Doris would be the most difficult to cast. “The script asks a lot from someone so young, so we auditioned countless actresses,” states director and screenwriter Mike Flanagan.
Young horror veteran Lulu Wilson, who had shown her chops in Deliver Us from Evil, was able to perfectly balance the innocence and evil of Doris. Recalls the director: “She prepared a monologue from the film where she explains in disturbing detail what it’s like to be strangled to death, and I almost fell off my chair. She was the only actress who didn’t deliver the dialogue in a frightening way. Instead, she delivered it casually, innocently and with a smile, which was such a sophisticated choice.”
When it came to her stunts, the actress also performed well beyond her years. “There’s a scene where Doris scales a wall, and we wanted Lulu instead of using one of Lulu’s stunt double in a wig,” recalls Flanagan. “She was fearless; the first time I saw her up the wall with a huge grin on her face, it was incredible.”
Adds Wilson, who remains in staunch admiration of her stunt doubles on set, “It was crazy, and I was a little nervous but not too much.”
While horror films are off limits for 10-year-old, she hopes her parents make an exception for Ouija: Origin of Evil. “I won’t let them get away without letting me watch it,” Wilson states determinedly.
Meanwhile, Flanagan penned the part of Doris’ older sister, the intelligent, strong-willed Lina, with Basso in mind. “I first worked in Oculus with Annalise when she was just 13, and I thought she was one of the finest actors I’d ever met,” he says. “I knew she was perfect for this part.”
Basso was equally thrilled to team up with her Oculus filmmaker once again. “As a director, he gives you a specific vision and the freedom to interpret that vision,” commends Basso. “He always asks, ‘Do you want one more take?’ He’s so kind and aware of what you as a performer need on set.”
Lina’s layered character appealed to 16-year-old Basso. “We’re almost the same age, so I related to her struggle to find her own identity,” says the actress. “Lina is reckless, and I like that about her. I also admire her strength, which she learned after her father’s death, and how she uses those two qualities to stand up to her mother and the powerful spirits inside the house.”
Basso was also drawn to Lina’s love story with Mikey, a senior who’s interested in the sophomore for all the right reasons. “There’s a pure and wholesome connection between these two teenagers, which is a relationship you rarely see in horror movies,” says Basso. “They have a very sweet romance, but it’s complicated. She’s just starting to feel the first pangs of young love, while experiencing the consequences of losing someone you care for so much.”