‘Oculus,’ will quietly sneak under your skin and creep you out.
Based on a short film, ‘Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan‘ also from director Mike Flanagan, ‘Oculus’ as a feature film is a fresh and original exercise in generating some goosebumps.
‘Oculus’ presents the story of Kaylie and Tim Russell, siblings who have survived a violent family tragedy eleven years ago. Whereas younger brother Tim has spent the last decade in a psychiatric facility, his sister Kaylie has been plotting to destroy the malevolent force responsible for their parents’ deaths.
The mysterious circumstances of those past events are revealed in a unique narrative style that seamlessly bridges both the past and present.
Kaylie has tracked down the antique mirror from their family home, believing it to be somehow responsible for the tragic deaths of her parents. The ‘Lasser Glass,’ as the antique mirror is known, has been present in the homes and buildings of some grisly and untimely deaths, as Kaylie’s impassioned research has discovered.
With her brother to assist her, Kaylie attempts to lure out the mirror’s evil spirit and destroy it once and for all.
‘Oculus’ succeeds in large part, due to the creative and skillful storytelling that director Flanagan has employed. Flanagan has chosen to focus on characters, narrative, and atmosphere instead of cheap cinematic tropes like found footage or jump scares.
‘Oculus’ unfolds in multiple timelines, showing the audience the progression of haunted insanity which befell the siblings’ parents, concurrently with the “investigation” of the possessed antique in present day.
Not since James Wan’s ‘The Conjuring‘ has a genre film so thoughtfully constructed a story that captivates our attention.
There are some tense and spooky moments to be found in ‘Oculus.’ Sadly, present-day horror fans have largely been conditioned to expect and accept poorly written and unoriginal gross-out, in-your-face sensory assaults that pass for modern horror film.
How do I know this to be true? The Head Nerd here at Flixnerd.com was literally the only audience member in the theater for this screening. What a shame for true horror fans who appreciate originality and style over uninspired gore-dom.
There’s a place for that style, too. But ‘Oculus’ bravely eschews those “cut and paste” cheap scares with a film that is well-acted, creatively unfolds in its narrative, and tells an original and creepy story that is sure to linger with its fans.
Check out the interview below, from the New York Times, with director Mike Flanagan for an even deeper synopsis of ‘Oculus.’
Flixnerd Rating: ‘Oculus’ ★★★★☆