Think about the best Hollywood horror films of recent years and where their scares come from. Conspiracy? The demonic ghost of an ancient witch. Insidious? Ghosts and demons trapped in an underworld known as “The Further”. Claim? An ancient deity called Bughuul. the paranormal activity movies? No more witches and evil spirits. The cabin in the woods? Lovecraftian gods who play Big Brother and employ an arsenal of classic horror monsters, ranging from zombies to murderous clowns and werewolves.
Add in the endless vampires, victims of demonic possession and Michael Myers impersonations that have populated recent indie genre films and you have a horror market that has been impressive lately, but certainly not for an overabundance of films. antagonists. Mike Flanagan, however, is here to shake things up. The 36-year-old writer-director is the mastermind behind Oculusthe latest low-budget mainstream horror movie to have Blumhouse stamp of the production company, placing it under the same roof as Insidious, Claim, The purge and the paranormal activity franchise. But it’s something completely different from all those successful mainstream horror pictures.
Oculus, as those effective and ubiquitous TV commercials promised, is about a haunted mirror. Yes, a reflective piece of glass that makes terrible things happen to good people. Again, a creepy and malevolent mirror.
And guess what? That damn mirror is going to freak you out. Not quite the first film of its kind – the 1980 film by German filmmaker Ulli Lommel The bogeyman features shattered mirror shards that glow red and drip blood. The bogeyman is Attack of the Killer Tomatoes when compared to Oculus, although. Same for 2008 Mirrorsa film that Kiefer Sutherland surely wants to forget.
With the co-writer Jeff Howard, Flanagan dreamed up a wonderfully unsettling story for his terrifying Glass Strip. It is known as “The Lasser Glass”, a name that refers to its original owners, Philip and Virginia Lasser, who in 1754 died horribly once the mirror came into their possession. Nearly 300 years and 50 victims later, the Lasser Glass is bought by Alan Russell (Rory Cochrane), who, with his loving wife, Marie (Battlestar Galactica fan favorite Katee Sackhoff) and their two children, Kaylie, 12 (Annalize Basso) and Tim, 10 (Garrett Ryan), just moved into a new house. Soon, terrible tragedies befall the Russells one night, resulting in Tim being sent to a mental hospital and Kaylie being forced to start a whole new life on her own. Flash before 11—Adult Tim (Brenton Thwaites leaves the psychiatric hospital, reunites with a now engaged and well-to-do Kaylie (Doctor Who to burst Karen Gillan). But she’s figured out the next step: she’s got her hands on the Lasser Glass, and she’s determined to prove that it was he, not Tim, who caused their family tragedies.
Criss-crossing the two pivotal timelines of the Russell children, Flanagan elevates what begins as an unassuming and indeed unnerving supernatural tale into a narrative-driven and downright breathtaking horror film unlike anything the genre has seen in a long time. It is a daring and demanding experience, especially since Oculus opens on thousands of screens across the country. With his preference for masterminds and characterization over gory, routine scares, Oculus is a risky business for its backers, Blumhouse and WWE Studios. For Flanagan, however, this is exactly the movie he intended to make. Considering he shot it independently and acquired Blumhouse/WWE distribution after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, the indie-minded filmmaker never had to struggle with the Hollywood standards, objections from major studios, or pesky interference from producers.
But will mainstream audiences embrace his unique and somewhat renegade style of horror? For the genre, hopefully. Before that’s answered by Sunday night’s box office numbers, get to know one of the genre’s most exciting newcomers. In this candid interview, Mike Flanagan explains how a Stephen-King-loving kid from Maryland navigated his way through college angst, a Kickstarter campaign, and rejections from plenty of big shots to get to Oculus. Plus, co-stars Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff each discuss what drew them to Flanagan’s project and why it ultimately scared them off you-know-what.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
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