TIFF 2013 Review: OCULUS
A traumatic past, parallel storylines, and a haunted mirror make up Oculus, an inventive and infectious horror entry into Midnight Madness. While avoiding common pitfalls, such as giving away too much too soon, and having an inexplicable ending, director Mike Flanagan presents a refreshing and often disturbing piece of creepy cinema.
After years in a mental institution, Tim is finally released on his 21st birthday, but while he is eager to move forward, his sister can’t wait to rehash the past. It’s a past though that they disagree on, and for some time it’s unsure who has a better grasp on it.
What we know is that their parents died in horrific fashion, with both children somehow involved. Tim attributes it to a fractured marriage and a fit of rage, while Kaylie believes it to be the work of a possessed mirror – typical, right?
The seemingly fearless and spunky red-head recovers the historic mirror, returning with it to her childhood home alongside a plethora of contraptions in order to catalog the murderous misdoings of this spirited object. The siblings hole up, waiting for signs of life – or death – and as time passes in the house, they recount a murky past.
Seamlessly switching between the dual stories, Flanagan’s bloody horror film is filled with some potent image burning and uncomfortable sequences of the grotesque. There is more than just noises in the dark and flashes of specters ; tension rises as both storylines meet their unforgettable and fated conclusions.