Review By Alicia Glass
Studio: Relativity Media
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Mike Flanagan
A woman tries to exonerate her brother of the suspicion of killing their parents, by proving that the crime was a murder of supernatural origins.
Honestly, Oculus is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in recent years, although that isn’t necessarily saying much. Karen Gillian as the adult Kaylie Russell, determined to prove that that unholy mirror is the actual cause of all their siblings troubles, gives a very fine believable, almost manic, performance. Brenton Thwaites as her brother Tim does a swell job as well, desperately wanting to believe all the stuff the nut-nut factory crammed into his skull, instead of the thought that it’s an eeeeevil mirror coming to get us. The movie centers on the story of the two siblings, trading off in younger flashbacks and adult determined-to-finish-this interleaved scenes in a very smart, understandable way. So let’s open the horror closet and see what we make of Oculus!
We begin with adult (more or less) Tim getting out of a “mental health facility” and being picked up by his sister Kaylie. We learn rather quickly that Tim was roundaboutly accused of the murder of his parents but since he was a minor when it happened he was sent to a rehabilitation facility instead of jail, where of course they filled his head with reasonable, logical explanations for what actually happened to the Russell parents. Adult Kaylie is having none of it, however. She spent her free years tracking the mirror that she believes caused the horrors that happened to her family, and indeed, she happily tells Tim that she’s gotten her hands on the mirror in question and wants to take it back to their old house for a final confrontation and hopefully destruction. For the Russell children promised each-other that they would come together when they were adults and destroy the cursed mirror that tried to kill their whole family.
Kaylie has spent a very long time researching the history of the mirror and its various owners, and the horrors that were visited upon each and every last one of them before the mirror changed hands again. She’s rigged the old Russell house with all sorts of monitoring equipment, supplies and even set up a “kill switch” to automatically demolish the mirror in case it all goes horribly sideways. Tim is frightened already and immediately begins remembering what happened to his parents as soon as Kaylie convinces him to reluctantly remember his promise and come help kill that bloody mirror. And so we the audience are treated to some of the most disturbing instances any child should ever have to endure, in flashbacks of what happened to the Russell family.
Software engineer Alan Russell (Rory Cochran) moved his wife Marie (Katee Sackhoff) and their two adolescent children (Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan) into a new house, and ignorantly purchased an antique mirror to decorate his new office. (The office seemed nice enough to me, but throwing that mirror in there seemed rather ostentatious and like it didn’t belong in there at all.) Things continue along their merry way until shortly after, both parents begin acting very strange. Mother Marie starts having visions of her own body decaying and becomes completely unable to take care of the children, much less really communicate at all. And Father Alan, well, he apparently can’t keep it to himself and becomes seduced by a malevolent spirit that seems to live in the mirror, this awful ghostly apparition of a woman with mirrors for eyes. The children try desperately to keep it together while their father locks their mother in chains in the bedroom and then himself in his study, to do who-knows-what-nasty with a ghost. All the plants in the house die, the dog disappears, food runs out and the neighbors won’t help. The children determine, despite being frightened beyond belief, that the only way they can stop the evil going on in their house is by confronting it themselves.
Well, obviously solving it themselves when they were children didn’t work out too well. Kaylie has resolved as an adult to stop the mirror at any cost, not reckoning just how high that cost could be. And poor Tim, after years of being convinced that there’s no such thing as any evil mirror that caused him to shoot his father, is back to impotently confront his younger self and the ghostly demons of his and his families past.
Gillian brings forth a cheerful determination for her character, left over from her Doctor Who days, that is a joy to watch. It was rather fun to see Katee Sackhoff play a character that quickly dissolved into a monster, and for Rory Cochran to pull a Shining-like performance for the father. The history of the mirror and all the people who owned it was fairly thoroughly looked into, but not the why and how of the evil curse living in it, which was a bold choice for the filmmakers, and one I appreciate. I of course don’t want to give away the ending, but it was rather like the end of Stephen King’s Rose Red, another very fine sendup of a haunted house story. The house, or in this case the mirror, that eats people gives no explanation as to its evil motives, and that just somehow makes it all that much more terrifying.
Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.
Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2
A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!
It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.
Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.
Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.
Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!
Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!
If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one!
Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive!
So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise.
Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party.
The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe!
Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now!