A superb supernatural thriller about two siblings struggling to escape an abusive past.
Mike Flanagan (USA, Midnight Madness)
Sunday, September 8, 11:59 p.m.
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard Street East)
Tuesday, September 10, 4:15 p.m.
Scotiabank 14 (259 Richmond Street West)
Sunday, September 15, 6 p.m.
Scotiabank 11 (259 Richmond Street West)
Mike Flanagan’s exceptional film Oculus is ostensibly about a haunted mirror that traps its victims in a cycle of anguish, feeds off their psychic energy, and then pushes them to suicide or murder—but the director uses this as a jumping-off point to examine the psychological weight borne by children who suffer physical and emotional abuse. This would be challenging material for many filmmakers, but Flanagan and his excellent cast handle the complex, powerful story with sensitivity and confidence.
After shooting his father and spending years in psychiatric care, Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites), reunites with his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan), who claims that the antique mirror in their father’s study was what destroyed their family, as well as the families of many owners before them. Tim reluctantly agrees to help Kaylie document the mirror’s effects, but all goes awry when it begins to play with their perceptions—intermingling past and present, memory and reality, and forcing them to witness again their parents’ violent relationship, with devastating results. This film is intense and disturbing, and it’s highly recommended.