TIFF 2013: Oculus Review



Midnight Madness

Director: Mike Flanagan

Told with a great deal of ambition and style, the “possessed random object” subgenre of horror movies (and the even narrower subgenre of such films using mirrors) gets a much needed shot in the arm with Flanagan’s tightly plotted and original story.


Oculus begins by showing 21 year old Tim (Brenton Thwaites) getting released from a mental hospital for the criminally insane following an incident in his youth that left his mother (Katee Sackhoff) dead under mysterious circumstances and led to Tim shooting his father (Rory Cochrane). Their deaths – as we see through flashbacks and weaving in and out of Tim’s dreams – were the result of a manipulative 300 year old mirror that drives those who gaze into it mad. Upon Tim’s release, his vengeful sister (Karen Gillan) wants her little brother’s help to destroy the indestructible looking glass once and for all.

Flanagan juggles his non-linear narrative and backstory quite adroitly, and he certainly has an eye for suspense and a feeling for tone. The concept of the evil mirror is never something silly or trite, and the focus is wisely placed on the psychological implications for all the characters.

It’s all a fun ride until the final third gets a bit too liberal with the “Gotcha!” moments and the lustre starts to wear off. It comes close to almost being a junior varsity version of Inception in the late going, but it stops before it gets there (with an ending that’s appropriate, but might rankle some).



Tuesday, September 10th, Scotiabank 14, 4:15pm

Sunday, September 15th, Scotiabank 11, 6:00pm