Mike Flanagan has made a name as a horror movie master. Directing works such as ‘Doctor Sleep’ and the Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’, Flanagan has proved his worth. While perhaps not as well-known as similar directors like Wes Craven or George Romero, Flanagan has built a credible body of work. ‘Oculus’ is among them with Flanagan’s skill in exploring the human condition as well as chilling the spine clearly evident.

Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites) are haunted by their past. Eleven years earlier their parents Marie (Katee Sackhoff) and Alan (Rory Cochrane) suffered horrible deaths. Kaylie believes an ancient mirror her father purchased held demonic qualities which led to their demise. Attempting to prove her theory, against her brother’s wishes, she uses the mirror to summon evil spirits with potentially deadly consequences.

Despite having an abundance of frights and the occasional blood, ‘Oculus’ is more than those superficial elements. Due to Flanagan’s ability in crafting engaging characters, ‘Oculus’ mainly focuses on emotional traumas. How their parent’s deaths affected them makes Kaylie and Tim complex and interesting people to watch. Their determination in concluding a never-ending nightmare sees them trying to understand the evil they face which is more powerful than they realise.

Occasionally the alternating timelines can be confusing. This may be a ploy by Flanagan to keep viewers on their toes, in which case it succeeds. In terms of scares, ‘Oculus’ generally has an atmosphere of silence. Loud noises don’t have to be in every horror movie, with the silent unseen foe just as creepy as a noisy one. Flanagan’s use of cinematography is also on a high scale, with off-kilter angles and shadowy corners reflecting the torment his characters endure.

‘Oculus’ is another solid horror movie from Flanagan. He knows what works whilst exhibiting flair in balancing characterisation and expected thrills. His movies are always worth seeking out with his addition to the horror maestro pantheon assured.

Rating out of 10: 7


His House

In the horror genre, houses never get a good rap. Either they’re possessed by evil entities or are living beings ready to destroy all who dare venture inside. ‘The Amityville Horror’ series among others made a virtue of horrific houses terrorising new tenants. ‘His House’ gives this a more topical and down to earth spin. Although having genuine realism, ‘His House’ still makes a case why it always pays to fully know an abode’s history before purchase.

Refugees who have fled from South Sudan, Bo (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wummi Mosaku) seek asylum in England. Set up in a rundown house near London, they face racism, the threat of deportation and hatred. Attempting to establish a new life, their determination is shattered when an evil entity is found lurking in their house. In the dark shadows lies a cruel beast waiting to claim them with only Bo and Rial’s strong spirit their weapon.

Written and directed by Remi Weeks, ‘His House’ is a very slow paced but interesting movie. Exploring issues of grief, guilt and living in alien environments, the themes make it stand out. The house comes to represent their strength of will with its dark gremlins mirroring the torment they feel in having left friends and family behind.

‘His House’ doesn’t forget to be scary with effective shocks discarding the usual lazy jump scares. The silent stillness the characters inhabit feels far scarier with the atmosphere of consistent dread. Dirisu and Mosaku deliver fine performances enabling you to feel the conflict within their roles. Weeks’ use of stark photography elevates the realistic feel the script needs, making the story more visually interesting.

‘His House’ may not make you love creepy old dwellings, but it succeeds in being a thought provoking spooky film. Its low budget look elevates its high ambitions. Weeks is a talent to watch with his latest an arresting story ensuring you’re still watching until its creepy end.

Rating out of 10: 7