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OCULUS - *** (105 minutes)

 
April 9, 2014
 
Bowie Maryland-based writer/director Mike Flanagan effectively expands on his 2006 multi-award winning short about a centuries-old mirror, supposedly housing demons, which wreaks havoc on its owners.  Although this theme has many past cinematic representatives, Flanagan successfully imbues enough originality, and less clichés one would expect in this well-worn genre, to keep one's interest throughout.
 
The film hits the ground running when two young siblings (Garrett Ryan and Annalise Basso) are in the midst of a chaotic domestic episode in which their father (Rory Cochran) is killed by his 10-year-old son Tim (Garrett Ryan).  The scene shifts forward eleven years when the adult Tim (Benton Thwaites) is "cured" and released from a mental institution when he reunites with his sister Kaylie (earnestly played by Kare Gillan of Dr. Who fame). 

Although Tim feels he was responsible for his father's death, Kaylie thinks otherwise.  To emphasize her belief, she reminds him of a pact they made when they were younger-which we quickly discovers involves that mirror and her elaborate plan to destroy it. 
 
Flanagan weaves his tale through continuous flashbacks and flash-forwards that slowly depicts the effect the mirror has had on the lives of this family as well as references to past owners that Kaylie has discovered through her research.  Using minimal gore and fright gimmicks (that can be rampantly found in grade-B horror flicks), the director instead resorts to maximum creepiness to ramp up the suspense in order to keep the audience involved. 

Although the film somewhat loses steam in the final fifteen minutes, his second effort in the horror realm (he directed a small well-received 2012 film Absentia) shows high promise-making Mike Flanagan a name to watch in the future.

UP NEXT:  Tom Hardy's solo effort in Locke 

 
Young Tim (Garret Ryan) and Kaylie (Annalise Basso)
and that evil mirror 

11 years later, Tim (Benton Thwaites) and
Kaylie (Karen Gillan) plan their next action