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.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm