Oculus (2013)

Oculus (2013)

written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard

based on the short film Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan by Mike Flanagan

directed by Mike Flanagan

Rating: 2.5 / 5 – Pretty Good

Early on in Oculus, the second film from writer/director Mike Flanagan, there’s a scene in which Kaylie (Karen Gillan), an auction house employee, enters a storeroom and slowly approaches a huge old mirror. As she looks at her reflection on it, she whispers Hello again. You must be hungry. Creepy. But wait… she sees something out of the corner of her eye. Did one of the three covered statues behind her suddenly move?

At this point, I’m already covering my eyes. Kaylie goes to investigate – as heroines in these films usually do – and, one by one, starts to take the sheets off of the sculptures. But she’s not scared – she’s determined. She uncovers the first one – nothing underneath. Then the next. Nothing. She pauses before going for the last one. Holy crap, now my eyes are fully closed. She grabs the sheet and…

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I won’t give it away, but it’s one of several moments in Oculus that elevate it above just another run-of-the-mill horror flick. You see, the mirror harbors a malevolent force responsible for the deaths of Kaylie’s parents eleven years earlier, and now she intends to destroy it forever. The clever script by Flanagan and Jeff Howard has Kaylie and her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites) face an unpredictable enemy that can alter their perception of space and time. It’s kind of refreshing, if not altogether successful. But it’s definitely a step up from Flanagan’s earlier Absentia (2011), with a better understanding of mood, pace, and character. It reminded me a little of 1982’s Poltergeist, another film with reflective surfaces and evil spirits… and that’s a good thing.

Carlos I. Cuevas

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