In the summer, movie fans get big action movies with lots of explosion and as much sex as the studios can slide in under a PG rating. In early winter, we get the gripping dramas and awards contenders. In January/February it's mostly crap. A good horror movie, however, can come at any time. Horror lurks in darkened cinemas month-in-month-out and the latest creep show to hit the Whistler Village 8 is Oculus, opening Friday.
In Oculus the evil manifests itself as a haunted/possessed mirror that has been tormenting souls since at least the 18th century, causing hapless victims to drown their children, drive themselves insane or in the case of lead characters, Kaylie and Tim, send them into a time warp of suffering and pyscho-horror filled with dead parents and fresh pain.
Over a decade since the haunted mirror, a.k.a. "The Lasser Glass" left them orphans, Kaylie and Tim reunite — he's fresh out of the loony bin and she's spent the last decade searching for the dusty relic that tore her family apart. Maybe not the wisest plan there, Kaylie, seeing as how the mirror killed your parents, but it makes for a pretty good haunted-house flick.
Using a litany of cameras and computers set up in their old home, Kaylie and Tim perform elaborate experiments with the mirror in hopes of clearing the family name before destroying the haunted cause of all their woes. Tim plays the skeptic amidst withering houseplants and mild creepiness until the mirror decides to kick things into overdrive and thrusts our hapless heroes into a mind-bending, time-hopping horror flick wrought with impending doom, childhood trauma and a lurking sense of claustrophobia. Oculus is unique enough to work, and while some of the freakiness borrows from Amityville or The Ring, director Mike Flanagan (Absentia) pulls off a pretty kick-ass little horror film. This is worth checking out.
For the kids, Rio 2 also opens Friday, and hopefully it's more entertaining than the cheap "rapping bird" schtick put forward in the trailer. Veteran animated director Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age, Rio, Robots) returns and uses all the colours in a bowl of Fruit Loops to dish up what is essentially a Meet the Parents / City Slickers mash-up that finds city-bird Blu out of his element in the Amazon Jungle with his mate, Jewel, their three kids and a whole whack of in-laws. For conflict there's an environmental rainforest logger and the revenge-thirsty Nigel, the bad bird from the first one.
Rio 2 has moments, but mostly it's a lot of singing and the sitcom-style premise gets old pretty fast. A bunch of stuff going on is not the same as a good plot, so Rio 2 will work well enough for young kids, but compared to the wit of something like The Lego Movie, this one is about as entertaining as cleaning bird shit off your car.
Also opening, Kevin Costner stars in an underdog football movie called Draft Day, which appears to be about an NFL draft day... I'd rather watch a dog lick up someone's puke.
The weirdest download of the week is Run Run It's Him, a totally independent autobiographical documentary a guy named Matt made about how his addiction to pornography has warped, and perhaps ruined his life. Shot over seven years with little budget this one is not for the faint of heart, but it goes to show anyone with a camera and an idea can tug out a movie these days if they want to. Viewer beware, this one is pretty out there, and all kinds of uncomfortable, but this is the kind of stuff movie freaks end up watching while waiting for the big-budget days of summer to start up in May.