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Oculus

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

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