It’s amazing how the reactions of the audience members in a film can dictate the general nod that most of the public will agree with. Not sure if it’s laziness, pure stupidity or ignorance that has patrons of horror at a disadvantage viewing almost any horror film. Unfortunately the new film from the director of the standout film Absentia (Mike Flanagan) latest entry Oculus falls into that realm. It’s a shame to see a film so smart, so cunning, completely go over the heads of the hordes of moviegoers more dedicated to their cellphone than the film they just paid admission to. Regardless of what the naysayers say Oculus creates a similar climate to most of the top supernatural films recently released, but provides so much more.
Oculus is brilliant! Aside from the constant use of the demonic voices that we find in so many films of this caliber there wasn’t too much we disliked. The story follows the brother and sister Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie Russell(Karen Gillan). Tim has just been recently released from the mental hospital after spending eleven years trying to erase the dramatic events of his past. Upon leaving the ward he is reunited with his sister who tells him they have some unfinished business. That business is to destroy the evil that resides in a mirror that was once in their childhood home. Soon the two are pushed into a world where they not only have to question reality but their motives as well.
Creepy, scary and a pure head f**k! Would be ample words to describe Oculus. The way the story develops is similar to the ideas we witnessed in Insidious 2 but they achieve so much more. For those that think this is a film “just about a haunted mirror” you are so wrong. There is so much more at play here as we see the ultimate manipulation form right in front of our eyes. We are more reminded of a “trick” mirror than say a “haunted” one. Without going into the spoiler zone we will also note that this film also is more about the reunion of two kids who witnessed a horrific event. The dynamic between Kaylie and Tim is what may lose it for some. There is a lot of dialogue that goes back and forth between the two. This is needed as you are aware that there has been so much time between them.. One of the things we appreciated about this banter is the fact that even being removed from the mirror, the manipulation still exist. The greatest trick that the devil ever did was making us not believe he didn't exist. Well when an 10 year old boy says a mirror made his family go insane than the victory still resides on the side of the mirror. This is a genius aspect of the film because it allows you to see that no one ever escapes the mirrors grasp.
Don’t think for a second that the eeriness of Oculus won't disturb you. The use of the highlighted eyes for those seduced by the mirror works brilliantly. Flanagan was able to provide an atmospheric tension that builds up the scare. We have not seen anything of this nature since the great Asian supernatural films of the early 2000’s. With films like Absentia and now Oculus under his belt similar to James Wan we are seeing a true future master of horror.
Hopefully many will embrace this brilliant film as it;s amazing to see a supernatural flick with so much depth. Oculus is a reminder that at one time in our life we didn't need crazy effects, zombies, and demons to pull off scare. It’s a vintage horror with a new look that should be appreciated by fans everywhere, not just the horror genre.
Oculus is theaters everywhere now! It is directed Mike Flanagan and stars Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane. It is rated R with a running time of 105 mins.