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Oculus

Mirror, mirror – ★★★½

Oculus director Mike Flanagan was born in Salem, Massachusetts. It seems fitting that a horror director would be born in a city that is synonymous with witchcraft and not much else (save for the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell), with plenty of old-school spookiness in place in his haunted family tale.

The film tells the story of an old mirror which has caused a world of misfortune and death for many years, most recently to the Russell family. The film deals in two timelines, the first with the two Russell parents and their kids Kaylie and Tim and the second 11 years later with a now adult Kaylie and Tim trying to work out why their parents died. Before you sound the spoiler klaxon, we’re told pretty early on that Tim was driven to murdering his father and then sentenced to time in a juvenile psychiatric facility. It’s a film that pitches itself as a revenge story as much as anything else.

Waaah!

Waaah!

So plot wise it’s nothing that different, but still feels like a solid addition to the world of “haunted object” films which has seen everything from tyres (Rubber) to dolls (The Conjuring). Heck we even saw haunted mirrors like this a few years ago in the Kiefer Sutherland film from 2008 Mirrors. Where the film is to be commended is in the way it merges the two timelines into its narrative, allowing memories and mis-memories from a decade ago to start playing tricks on the protagonists and the audience.

The film is based off of director Flanagan’s own short-film from a few years ago and once the chills subside for a bit you can see the points in the script where he’s tried to inject the botox to plump things up.

Brenton Thwaites as adult Tim is standard one-dimensional horror film acting but Karen Gillan as Kaylie excels and manages to be just the right kind of obsessed psycho to actually get the audience rooting for her. It’s also great to see Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff back on the big screen as the mother in the past timeline.

There’s no need to rely on gore or cheap shock tactics as this is just a genuinely creepy and thrilling film. The final act is quite clever and very satisfactory, tying things up nicely – though chances are more seasoned horror films may have called it early on.

The perfect horror movie to act as an antidote to those of you having nightmares at the impending month of football taking over the small screen.

Released in selected cinemas on Friday the 13th of June.

[imdb id=”tt2388715″]

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Nigel

Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.