As kids, Kayleigh and her younger brother Tim’s childhood is shattered, one evening when they are forced to defend themselves from their suddenly psychotic parents, with fatal consequences. Now years later, Tim has taken responsibility for the tragedy that unfolded, and upon release from care is greeted by sister Kayleigh, who has long been researching what she believes to have been the root of the problems that night. A sinister mirror, known as the Lasser Glass, bought by their parents not long before their nightmarish episode.
I must admit, I was pretty interested to see how Mike Flanagan fared with this. His much lauded short ‘Oculus Chapter 3: The Man With The Plan” gained a frenzy of attention back in 2006. Now armed with a healthier budget of $5m (the original short reportedly cost $2,000) and a strong cast, it just remained to be seen whether he and writing partner Jeff Howard could deliver a script that went the distance.
Needless to say they do. And a good job they make of it too.
The pace is steady, flowing along at a gentle canter while also not giving us too much, too soon. There are the obligatory scares and jumps as the siblings, now in their twenties, conduct experiments on the malevolent mirror, but not once do any of these feel forced or shoe horned in. The only thing that does grow tiring as we reach the final third is the two timelines that the story arc is spread across. Running parallel as we skip from past to present constantly throughout. But even then, these transitions are seamless, they’re well executed, and I really am picking at bones with that minor criticism. Besides, what’s a good horror movie without the ‘vulnerable kid’ angle?
The cast do a damn fine job too, fleshing out the characters, injecting them with life in abundance. The film is more or less carried by Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites as the recently reformed siblings but a special mention has to go to Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane as their parents, slowly, yet surely losing the plot under the influence of the mysterious mirror. They lend a very intimidating presence to the film and, accompanied by the Newton Brothers’ minimal score, it all adds depth to the production. Some people fail to notice the score, but to a horror movie it’s just as important an aspect as anything else. It really can make a scene, even a film, and drag you in subconsciously. The Newton Brothers do give us a score here that while not instantly noticeable, really does add an extra dimension. Never out staying it’s welcome, it creeps up and lends even more tension to proceedings.
Despite and ending that many will probably predict early on, Oculus is a well written, well acted and well directed film, definitely worth checking out upon it’s impending Blu Ray release.
Extras on the Blu Ray release include:
- Deleted Scenes – with optional commentary from Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy
- The original Oculus short – with optional commentary from Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy
- Inside The Mirror: Creating Oculus
- Theatrical Trailer
- Commentary from Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy
Oculus is released August 5th