Review by Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
The Horror genre encapsulates a wide-array of sub-genres, from Teen Slashers to Monster Movies all wave their banners proudly beneath the horrific flag. Thrillers do as well, and have done so since the days of Film Noir. Nail-biting suspense and paranormal delusions help fuel the Thriller medium, and the new Film Oculus combines both of these elements to make for one of the most terrifying experiences in recent years.
Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, the Film first premiered here last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Horror Mag Experts in-attendance then raved about its accomplishments, and thanks to VVS Films, the Flick has at last arrived in theatres for the public at large to consume.
For those amidst the mass interested in having their neural pathways played with and dopamine receptors manipulated, than be sure to purchase a seat to see Oculus.
The Story begins in an unsettling manner. Two Children (Kaylie and Tim Russell) witness the deaths of their parents, but their vision seems temporally unbalanced. Tim (Brenton Thwaites) awakes from this vision in a mental hospital years later and just days before his release. Shortly thereafter he reunites with his Sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and the two begin to piece their childhood back together in front of a mysterious mirror.
The Plotline is simple enough, but the way in which it is stitched together is everything but. Oculus, as the Title subtlety suggests, deceives the eye at every turn. Both time and space are played with as Kaylie and Tim battle to make sense of their surroundings. It’s mesmerizing to watch as the desire to predict the Film’s end is quickly trumped by the desire to endure its psychological exploits. Flanagan’s Script spins a yarn that appears scattered at first, but is ultimately cohesive in a most impressive manner. By the Film’s end the layers unfold in such a way that fans will be left intrigued and eager for analysis and discussion.
Additional notes of merit concern the Director’s use of space and pacing. Confined to the house for the majority of the Film, it’s important to note how well these grounds are used. In addition, the speed through which he traverses these grounds are as contemplative and they are clever. The audience is given adequate time to think things through whilst still being heavily engaged in the developing narrative. The Actors deserve kudos as well, especially the younger versions of Kaylie and Tim (Annalise Basso & Garrett Ryan). As it is there job to stimulate fear in the audience by reacting to the paranormal threats that berate them, it must be said that theirs is a job well done.
The Horror genre is alive and bleeding thanks to the brilliance of Oculus. Fans and the frightened alike will not be disappointed.
VVS Films release OCULUS on Friday, April 11, 2014.