You know you want to look

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

OCU­LUS ★★★ Di­rected by Mike Flana­gan. Star­ring Karen Gil­lan, Bren­ton Th­waites, Ka­tee Sack­hoff, Rory Cochrane, An­nalise Basso, Gar­rett Ryan, James Lafferty 16 cert, 103 min Cor­rec­tions are wel­come, but Mike Flana­gan’s ef­fec­tive, nasty chiller might just be the best haunted-mir­ror film since, well, the “Haunted Mir­ror” episode of Dead of Night 70 years ago. The com­pe­ti­tion through in­ter­ven­ing decades may not have been fierce, but enough new ground is bro­ken here for us to feel con­fi­dent in declar­ing Flana­gan Hor­ror a hot stock.

Ocu­lus os­cil­lates ef­fec­tively from the present to an ori­gin story set 10 years ago. At the start of the century, the Rus­sell fam­ily move into a nice house in an at­trac­tive sub­urb. Their only mis­take is to buy an item of fur­ni­ture that turns out to have brought un­told mis­ery to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of own­ers. You know the sorts of things. Long-faced Ed­war­dian ladies flung them­selves into mill­races. Oth­ers went barmier still.

Be­fore too long, Mr Rus­sell, hav­ing placed the mir­ror in his study, be­gins to no­tice stuff mov­ing about the house and hear mys­te­ri­ous noises in the pas­sage­ways. As the par­al­lel story clarifies early on, calamity even­tu­ally be­falls the fam­ily. Son Tim (Bren­ton Th­waites) ends up in a men­tal asy­lum, and Kaylie (Karen Gil­lan), his sis­ter, de­vel­ops an ob­ses­sion with the an­cient look­ing-glass.

Kaylie doesn’t fit com­fort­ably into the “fi­nal girl” mytholo­gies of hor­ror. Run­ning with the no­tion that ghosts can be foiled with a biff to the head, she sets up var­i­ous booby traps and de­vises strate­gies to make sure nei­ther she nor her brother fall asleep. While Tim cow­ers, she savours any para­nor­mal oc­cur­rences as proof of her grow­ing sus­pi­cions.

Ocu­lus thrives on clever sleights of hand that play with our grasp on re­al­ity. Flana­gan de­liv­ers just enough “Lew­ton’s buses” – as hor­ror boffins, re­mem­ber­ing that pro­ducer’s Cat People, de­scribe false shocks – to pre­pare us for a crazily busy de­noue­ment.

The di­rec­tor is as­sisted in his work by ex­cel­lent Karen Gil­lan. Hav­ing served her time as a com­pan­ion in Doc­tor Who, Gil­lan looks to have the stuff to thrive in Hol­ly­wood.

A view to a kill: Karen Gil­lan and Bren­ton Th­waites

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.