Mirrors have always been an essential part of classic horror; whether encasing, revealing or distorting, they are an effective device when introducing the supernatural into a realistic setting. We’ve had plenty of horror films dancing around the conceit of the mirror as an unholy gateway—“Candyman”, “Mirrors”, “The Broken”—but Mike Flanagan’s “Oculus” looks set to dive right into the looking glass and unearth the terror on the other side.
On Friday, the internet got its first look at Flanagan’s follow-up to his acclaimed indie debut, “Absentia”, which was one of the best horror films of 2011. Like that film, "Oculus" revolves around arcane forces striking out at unsuspecting folks searching for truth in a world that’s not what it seems.
Karen Gillian and Brenton Thwaites play siblings whose parents were murdered when they were young. Thwaites’ Tim took the blame and went to prison for a decade. When Tim is finally released, Gillian’s Kaylie goes looking for the presence that caused their pain and discovers an cursed mirror, one that’s left a wake of death and destruction behind it. Now, Kaylie and Tim will have to face their nightmares anew if they want to survive. Katee Sackhoff, James Lafferty and Rory Cochrane also star in the film, which received positive critical reaction when it played the Toronto Film Festival last year.
Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions and Relativity have paired with WWE Studios to release the film, which will hit theaters this April 11th. Flanagan demonstrated a fine hand at building tension out of shadows and suggestion in “Absentia”, while creating characters we cared about and a mythology that sent shivers up our spine. If he can bring that kind of substance to the style we see in this trailer, “Oculus” might be worth looking into come the spring.