Out Now – 13th June 2013


Shocking as it may seem England wasn’t always the multi-racial immigrant-loving country it is today. In fact we once actually participated in a slave economy. It’s all very embarrassing and is about time we faced up to this reality in our arts and culture. One step in the right direction is Belle which handles the issue of race in the only way we know how; through a period romantic drama filled with bonnets and corsets.

A surprisingly good American horror about a mirror that gets inside its owners’ heads to bring about their demise. With Karen Gillan in a lead role this should do well in the UK with the Doctor Who fans and luckily enough the film is actually quite good. Hurray!!!

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
Directed by l’homme français who made the delightful Amelie amongst other cinematic morsels is back with the story of a young cartographer who runs away from home. It looks quite charming and is in English so stop your xenophobic moaning.

Devil’s Knot
The story of the West Memphis Three, young teens accused of murdering three boys in a satanic ritual, has been well documented in both the Paradise Lost trilogy and the excellent West Of Memphis. This is the first film to try to dramatise the case and I am interested to see what they make of what is a truly horrific true story.

The Hooligan Factory
British comedy spoofing the not-that-big-anymore football genre. I don’t enjoy Football hooligan films so the chances of me wanting to watch a film that apes them is marginal. And no, Danny Dyer isn’t in it though weirdly did a promo video.

Of Horses and Men
Icelandic drama about people and their relationships with horses. Or as IMDb likes to put it, “A country romance about the human streak in the horse and the horse in the human. Love and death become interlaced and with immense consequences. The fortunes of the people in the country through the horses’ perception.” All I know is that the main image seems to involve horses mating, not necessarily my cup of tea but I guess it is horses for courses (WAHEY!).

112 Weddings
A wedding videographer tracks down the couples he has seen wed over two wedding to see how they got on. Who cares about these 112 weddings though when we have two very exciting weddings coming up this year; Kat of this very site has only two weeks left as a spinster and my own sister gets married this autumn. I could cry from pride. I advise them both to avoid this film just in case it puts marriage in a bad light.

A Perfect Plan
A family curse means that a woman’s first marriage is doomed to end in (Kat and sister please look away now, the next word is “happiness” I swear) divorce so she decides to marry a random stranger before wedding her beloved boyfriend in this French comedy. I bet you €50 she falls in love with her temporary husband.

Knocked for Six
An Australian cricket comedy.

Knocked for Six

Not again! Don’t worry everyone, your husband won’t leave you and I really hope you won’t go driving your car into a wall.

Oculus – Film Review

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Oculus is an American horror film about a brother (Brenton Thwaites) and sister (Karen Gillan) who reunite to destroy the haunted mirror that took the lives of both their parents (Katee Sackhoff & Rory Cochrane) and resulted in the brother spending his childhood in an institute. While the siblings battle to destroy the mirror in their old family home the past and present mirror (PUN!) each other as their childhood counterparts (Annalise Basso & Garrett Ryan) battle the same mirror in the same house 11 years earlier.

The idea of a haunted mirror might sound a little silly but most horror synopses suffer a similar flaw and whether or not this leads to the film’s failure or not is all in the execution. Oculus works best when showing the mirror’s powers in a non-corporeal way. Let me explain… The mirror can alter a person’s perception of reality so when they are eating an apple they actually eat a light bulb or remove their fingernail thinking it is a plaster. Little moments like this are genuinely creepy and aren’t signposted in advance like most scares in a modern horror.

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Scares work less well when we see a physical representation of the mirror’s evil which takes the form of slightly ill-looking people, actually dead, who have shiny eyes. At first they make you jump but the longer the camera lingers on an actor in makeup the more they start to look like an actor in makeup. For the most part though the film does it job of creepiness and scares well enough and I had to hide behind my hand on at least one occasion.

Also managed well are the transitions between the two eras. Actors from the past and present day will pass on the stairs or a scene will cut suddenly and grown-up Karen Gillan will be replaced by the much younger Annalise Basso. The effort put into these moments shows an extra nugget of consideration and helps raise the film a notch in quality and above the noise of low budget horrors coming out each week. The ending too should be praised for showing a real commitment to the premise and integrity of the plot over what an audience might want.

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It has been a week now since I saw the film and this allows for Oculus to be put to a real test for any half decent horror; has it stayed with me? The answer is sadly no. While scary while I was watching the film easily slipped from my mind as soon as I stepped outside the cinema and my sleep hasn’t been troubled by the sight of a mirror from my bed. While enjoyable spooky Oculus is probably not going to be held up as a classic in years to come.

Slick direction and editing really make this film and the fact that the director (Mike Flanagan) resists the temptation to make a found footage film despite the presence of technology is a real saving grace. Oculus is good, not great, and should make for a nice distraction on a wet summer evening.

Or maybe…

But probably just…

Oculus is in UK cinemas this Friday 13th June.