Don’t be fooled by its lo-fi roots – a single-setting chamber horror with a haunted rococo mirror as the villain of the piece – Mike Flanagan’s Oculus does more to a familiar premise than most standard-issue scary movies out there.
This isn’t so much genre exercise as a salubrious mental and psychological workout that throws horror tropes into the ground and devises a fiercely riveting battle royale between memory, rationality and phantasm.
There’s genuine panache the way Flanagan shatters the corporeal and illusion, piecing out a jigsaw puzzle from a childhood trauma that two obsessive-compulsive adults (Gillan and Thwaites) live to confront in the present.
Perhaps it’s still early days to name this Best Horror Film of 2014, but Oculus will certainly take a hard beating as the most adroitly developed and executed. It’s the most inspired horror filmmaking in recent years.
CAST: Karen Gillan, Brento Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan
DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan
WRITERS: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
SYNOPSIS: A woman, along with her reluctant younger brother, attempts to record and prove the supernatural activities of a 17th-century mirror.