Direction: Mike Flanagan
Actors: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites
This surprise packet of a horror chiller marks the arrival of promising newbie director Mike Flanagan. Expanded from his own half-hour short film, Oculus builds up a palpable sense of dread from the get-go. Tantalising the viewers’ imagination without resorting to shock tactics or gratuitous violence, Flanagan gets more scares from an antique mirror than most genre directors can scrape together with ghouls, gore and what have you.
Serving also as the film’s editor, the auteur adroitly melds events occurring in parallel time frames 11 years apart. The set-up is simple but it would be futile to expect clear-cut explanations for the supernatural elements here.
A decade after the mysterious death of their parents, 20-something siblings (Gillan-Thwaites) set out to investigate the malevolent forces unleashed by a century-old mirror in their family home.
It seems that their parents (Katee Sackhoff-Rory Cochrane) had inexplicably gone berserk under the influence of the demonic mirror. Now, the focus is on the psychological impact of the tragedy on the two parentless siblings who have to relive their childhood nightmare.
Low on special effects but high on horror and intrigue, here’s a rare small-scaled Hollywood film which delivers the goods and how. Karen Gillan is outstanding as the sister determined to unravel the mystery. Brenton Thwaites is equally impressive as her beleaguered brother.
The sparse background music score by The Newton Brothers is extremely effective. A compelling experiment in terror, Oculus is a must-experience.