Oculus, 2013 – ★★★★

Mike Flanagan has shown himself to be an incredible auteur over the last few years. I was lucky enough to see the original short film Oculus at a microbudget film festival years ago (and subsequent film Absentia), and stayed away from this adaptation only because i was worried it wouldn’t live up to the short. It doesn’t, but that’s because the short was a terrifying and tremendous use of a single location. In opening up the history and staging, Oculus suffers from similar play-movie adaptations, and the best moments in the film have Karen Gillen in the room with the Lasser Glass. The story in the past isn’t as engaging as the present, but when both become firmly intertwined as the Glass takes hold, one cares less and is just invested in the story. Gillen is great, and better than Brenton Thwaites who spends much of the movie either lecturing or staring aghast. Flanagan’s directorial ticks are already firmly implanted here, and one could easily see some of the ghosts and time shenanigans as test runs for what he would eventually do in Ouija, Haunting of Hill House, and Doctor Sleep (his masterpiece). I needn't have been concerned, but am very thankful that the original short is on the Blu-Ray, because that is absolutely brilliant.

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