Oculus (Mike Flanagan, 2014)

What's it about? As children, siblings Tim and Kaylie went through a traumatic experience which left Tim confined to a mental institution. 11 years later, he is deemed well enough to leave, only to find that Kaylie has convinced herself that the nightmare of their childhood was in fact due to a haunted mirror their parents had, and she now needs his help to face down the evil within it.

Is it any good? With Halloween just around the corner, you could do a lot worse than give this effective little chiller a whirl, which gets good mileage out of its past and present timelines. Helped by fantastic performances by Annalise Basso and Garret Ryan as the young Tim and Kaylie, the past sequences tap into base childhood fears in terrifically unsettling fashion. Precisely because they are children, thereby lacking the ability to control or avoid the horror developing around them, these scenes are really quite intense indeed. In the present timeline, as adults, this tension is undermined a bit because they could just STOP PISSING AROUND WITH THE MIRROR AND GET THE FUCK OUTTA THERE! But then, that wouldn't make for much of a film. Besides, the film has a nice trick up its sleeve in that it starts to blend together the past and present, using smart editing and clever camera-work to give the viewer a flavour of the disorientation the characters are experiencing, which naturally allows for some BOO! moments and generates some deeply uneasy moments. Plus there's a great bit with a broken light bulb. It does perhaps show a little too much, when it would have been creepier to leave things unseen, and it falls back on some standard genre tropes on occasion, but for the most part this is good stuff and will give you ample excuse to cling onto someone tightly for comfort. Just make sure it's who you think it is.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Well received by most, who were happy to see a horror film aim for something more than cheap scares. Speaking of which...

 What does the Fonz think? Seven out of ten on the brown-trouser meter.

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