Sunday, January 21, 2018


Movie Name: Oculus
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, Miguel Sandoval, Kate Siegel
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

"Oculus" is a follow up to a short feature directed by Mike Flanagan from 2006. The film follows the story of Kaylie and Tim Russell, siblings in their early 20s, who ten years prior went through a very disturbing and traumatic event in their family. Tim was incarcerated in a psychiatric institution as a result of having shot their father. Kaylie has long suspected that the events that unfolded were a direct result of supernatural presences that existed within a mirror that was present at their home. Now an adult, Kaylie has tracked down that mirror, and she intends to prove the power from that mirror, with the help of her recently released brother. However, the mirror, and the powers that it holds within has some different ideas.
Mike Flanagan has carved out a career for himself, with smartly constructed suspense and horror films, where the concept/premise of what is being watched is the focus, building an environment of discomfort and unease, as opposed to the graphical or visceral elements that have characterized so many horror films. "Oculus" is a great example of his approach - the film has an interesting premise, with a haunted mirror that influences some characters to do extreme things, and that can control what the characters see in reality. It's a premise that makes for a very dynamic unfolding of the narrative, as the director smartly interweaves the present and past timelines, to give the story an added sense of menace and distress (particularly since in the past timeline, the children are being forced to defend themselves from their possessed parents). The film is thin on character development, but it does manage to maintain the interest of the audience, by never overexposing the entity, and by suggesting more than gratuitously showcasing frights and scares. The cast assembled is interesting and diversified, with Karen Gillan and Rory Cochrane creating strong performances, while Brenton Thwaites continues to showcase the same type of performance from film to film (null, devoid of emotion and ultimately, credibility). The cinematography from Michael Fimognari is impeccable, as is the score from The Newton Brothers. An entertaining film worth watching.