Friday the 13th of June will be exceedingly unlucky for cinemagoers who hand over hard-earned cash in exchange for ghoulish thrills and spills in Oculus.
Writer-director Mike Flanagan’s ham-fisted take on a haunted house creaks with predictability, and jump-out-of-your-seat scares are perilously thin on the ground.
The script unfolds in parallel timelines set 11 years apart and the boundary between fantasy and reality becomes so blurred that it’s impossible to make sense of the on-screen madness until the end credits roll.
That said, it’s abundantly clear where Flanagan’s lumbering picture is headed and which two-dimensional characters must be slain, sparing them and us from swathes of risible dialogue that might convince some viewers they are watching a comedy.
Scottish actress Karen Gillan, who is best known for her time-travelling exploits in Doctor Who, sports a solid American accent as the film’s terrified heroine. She draws upon a repertoire of wide-eyed stares and pitiful whimpers as she battles valiantly against the ultimate manifestation of evil: an antique mirror.
A blood-soaked finale intentionally leaves the door ajar for a sequel, which should never see the light of day.