OculusWednesday 11 Jun 2014
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan
Duration: 103 minutes
As Doctor Who's companion Amy Pond, Oculus star Karen Gillan was involved in a fair few heart-stopping moments 'round about teatime. Plot-wise, Oculus feels a bit like it could have been an archive Doctor adventure, but it's a far scarier and made-for-the-midnight-hour experience. Whatever about gripping the armrests watching Gillan on 6pm telly at home, they could be well shredded sitting through this in the cinema.
Gillan plays Kaylie Russell, an auction house employee who, along with younger brother Timothy, has a right history with an antique called the Lasser Glass. The mirror is cursed; and 45 deaths and four centuries later Kaylie sets out to prove it in her childhood home. Cameras are set up, clocks synchronised, kill switches readied and old wounds fully re-opened. October 13 (natch) will be a very long night.
If there's one safe bet to be had in 2014 it's that Billy Bob Thornton won't be watching this, well, Antiques Creepshow. Indeed, even hardened horror nuts might feel a little jumpier than usual with Oculus. How eerie can a mirror be? Ah now...
Reworking his own short film, writer-director Flanagan has cast Oculus well (a face but not too famous a one), deftly ping-pongs from present to past, finds tension in the tropes and shows that having the lights on in a suburban home can be just as effective as having them off. Going from room to room, Gillan and co-star Thwaites manage not to chew the scenery too much, while Rory Cochrane (Slater from Dazed and Confused) proves once again that he deserves far bigger movies. Flanagan will certainly get the offers after this.
There are a few slow bits here and there but none to make your mind wander too far from the dread behind the front door. If you enjoyed The Conjuring, The Pact or Paranormal Activity then Oculus will be right up your creaky hallway. And it definitely won't inspire you to whip out the can of Pledge when you get home.