Dir.: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Karen Gillian, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff
“I’ve met my demons and they are many. I’ve seen the Devil, and He is Me.”
Such a quote is filled with frightening implications and truths such sentiments are echoed throughout Mike Flanagan’s contemporary ode to H.P. Lovecraft, Oculus. With a genesis as a well-received short film, Flanagan wanted to look further into the tale of the infamous Lasser Glass by combining the notion of intangible trans-dimensional horror with the very tangible reality of how mental illness can tear the human mind asunder.
Siblings Kaylee and Tim (Gillan and Thwaites) are conducting an instinctive experiment at Kaylee’s insistence in order to confirm to the world that the Lasser Glass is a singular entity which thrives on the pain and fear of the human eyes who look upon it in cruel, merciless ways. Naturally, the experiment yields as many questions as it does answers filled with horror, doubt and mental chaos.
This film doesn’t bother to give the Lasser Glass the human idea of motivation or ideology- it simply IS evil. It operates on its own terms and it is not something any human being can hope to understand because as Kaylee and Tim find out, the price of attempting to destroy, or even fully comprehend the Lasser Glass is high. The story dares to take enough disturbing twists and turns without explicitly explaining the whys and wherefores while at the same time encouraging the audience to read in between the lines (or is it cracks?), asking, demanding the watcher what they are making of what is unfolding on the screen in front of them.
The genre of horror is expansive and incredibly divergent, but let it be understood that occasionally, in an age where disgust at physical horror is more prevalent, Oculus challenges the status quo and treats the audience not as blood-thirsty gore hounds, but thinking, intellectual animals who are open to possibilities which far exceed conventional tropes all the while not afraid of being brutal where it counts.
Oculus may not the movie which makes you jump and scream from momentary horror, but it will send reverberating chills down your spine long after you turn the television off, it will stay with you like the malicious whispers of the Lasser Glass to its victims.