Relativity Media via Everett Collection
It seems only fair to mention that growing up, I was terrified of mirrors. Couldn't look at them, couldn't sleep with them in the room, could barely even think about them for fear of conjuring up the darkest conceivable images of what might be living on the other side of their nefarious glass faces. So, yes, I might have been an easy mark when it came to Oculus. But even without lingering childhood phobias, you won't walk away from the film free of tremors. Even more impressively, those looking for something meatier than a few jump scares won't be disappointed either.
Oculus paints itself with a long, coarse, hyperactive mythology, granting us a "history" of the demonic mirror in question that dates back to centuries and abounds many questions. But really, the conceit is simple: it's a mirror that f**ks with people. It makes you see things, makes you think things, and makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily. It ruined the lives of two children when it corrupted and killed their parents (Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane), and threatens to finish the deed when the estranged siblings reunite in adulthood to enact revenge. Tim (Brenton Thwaites) has spent the past decade in a mental hospital, chalking up the supernatural nightmares of his childhood to psychiatric delusions. His sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan), the "together one" with a job and a fiancé, has spent her time tracking down the haunted antique to do away with it once and for all. Back in their old house with the mirror in her possession, Kaylie sets her meticulously constructed plan into action, with a reluctant Tim in tow.
And yes, obviously, everything goes awry.
Relativity Media via Everett Collection
The mirror's grasp on the minds of its victims exhibits an impressive imagination in writer/director Mike Flanagan. Oculus doesn't hit us with a long supply of ghoulish figures, opting instead for haunting mind games that really land in the construction of an unsettling aura: because of the nature of the mirror's powers, we never know if and when what we're seeing is real. It's not a particularly new conceit for horror or thriller, but it's one that works well. Especially when you're engaged with the people suffering through this tormenting reality.
And we are. The horror of the movie isn't relegated to the mirror's demonic trickery. The far more interesting material exists between the emotionally distant siblings. While Kaylie clings to the only companion she has in the trauma that tore her family apart, Tim wants to leave his nightmares behind him, and perhaps his sister as well. Jumping between flashbacks and the current timeline, Oculus plays with relationships in a terrific way: those between parent and child, husband and wife, brother and sister, and — most importantly — past and present selves.
Oculus is far from a "fun" movie, but it does seem to be playing a few games with its ideas — the ideas inherent in the malleability of perception, or the delicateness of relationships. Although it doesn't quite deliver in its conclusion, Oculus works through its premise with aplomb. While it might well have gotten away with the concept of a "spooky mirror" just fine, it opts instead to tackle many of the concepts that horror was invented to explore. And the result isn't just interesting, it's genuinely scary.
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Celebrity pregnancies are a common occurrence among the Hollywood realm, however, 2012 has already seen a plethora of baby bumps and births, and it's only March. So to help everyone get a full look at this year's exceptional baby boom, Hollywood.com has compiled a list of stars who are about to become (or already have become) parents.
First out of the baby gate were Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who officially became parents to baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter, on Jan.7. The superstar couple first announced the pregnancy at the 2011 VMA's after Beyoncé strategically placed her hand on her stomach, while giving a knowing smile. This is the duos first and only child.
Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan welcomed a son into the world on Feb. 7 and named him Exton Elias Downey. The baby weighed in at 7 lbs., 5 oz., and was 20 inches long. This was the couple's very first kid together, though Downey also has another son from his previous marriage with Deborah Falconer.
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck welcomed their third child and first son on Feb. 27. Affleck posted the exciting news on his Facebook page along with revealing their newborn's name: Samuel Garner Affleck.
James Van Der Beek and his wife Kimberly welcomed a baby boy into the world on March 13. The pair already have a daughter named Olivia, who's 17-months-old, however, they've yet to announce the name they've chosen for their newest little bundle of joy. Feel free to throw out any suggestions.
Charlize Theron shocked the world on March 14 when her rep announced that the actress decided to adopt a healthy baby boy named Jackson. The child was born in the United States and is of African-American decent. And since Theron currently isn't seeing anyone at the moment, she's taking on this new role of motherhood completely solo.
Maggie Gyllenhaal's pregnancy became public knowledge in late November 2011, where she was reportedly already six months along. So, if you do the math, she should be due any day now. This will be the actress's second child with her husband Peter Sarsgaard. The couple already share a five-year-old daughter together, Ramona.
Hilary Duff announced her pregnancy on her official website in August 2011. Later on in October, the actress revealed on The Ellen Show that she and her professional hockey player husband, Mike Comrie, are expecting a baby boy. And though Duff has yet to give birth, she's scheduled to be due in late March or early April, so there's only a few more weeks to go.
Jessica Simpson revealed her baby bump on Halloween 2011, after dressing up as a "mummy" and cradling her stomach. Since then, she's been a pretty open book in regards to her pregnancy and even posed nude for Elle magazine — where she announced that she and fiance Eric Johnson are expecting a girl. Simpson's little girl is due sometime in April, and the baby's name is rumored to be Maxwell (Maxi for short).
Chris Hemsworth's rep confirmed in January 2012 that the actor will become a first-time father sometime this spring, after news broke that his wife Elsa Pataky was pregnant. The couple are extremely excited about the upcoming birth and have opted to be surprised by the child's gender. But whether it's a boy or girl, it's bound to be a good looking baby.
Kourtney Kardashian announced that she was expecting a second child with her boyfriend of five years, Scott Disick, back in November 2011. At the time she was only nine weeks along in her pregnancy, which means she's scheduled to give birth sometime in June. The reality, who already has a two-year-old son named Mason, revealed in February that she'll be having a baby girl.
Alyson Hannigan and her husband of eight years, Alexis Denisof, are currently expecting their second child together. And while the news was officially confirmed by Hannigan's rep back in December, the actual due date is not yet known. She currently has a 2-year-old daughter, Satyana Marie.
After a lot of back and forth baby rumors over the past few months, Snooki finally confirmed that she's fifteen weeks pregnant as of March 2012. The reality star is due sometime over the summer, either in late July or early August, and the father is her longtime boyfriend Jionni LaValle.
Nick Lachey announced on Live! With Kelly on March 5 that his wife Vanessa Minnillo is pregnant with their very first child. The gender and name choice are still unknown, however, Lachey did reveal that the due date is in late summer or early fall.
Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak and her husband Kroy Biermann are also expecting another child later this fall. The reality star shared the news via Twitter on March 20, writing, "@biermann71 and I are happy to announce YES WE ARE PREGNANT!" The couple just welcomed a son Kroy Jagger Jr. in November 2011. Zolciak also has two daughters -- Brielle, 15, and Ariana, 9 -- from a previous relationship.
And last, but certainly not least, news broke on March 21 that Reese Witherspoon is 12 weeks pregnant, which puts her due date in either late August of early September. The actress already has two children with her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe (daughter Ava, 12, and son Deacon, 8), however, this will be her first child with her new hubby Jim Toth.
Two orphaned kids Andi (Emma Roberts) and her mechanical whiz of a younger brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) live in a foster home with a couple of aging wannabe rock stars (Lisa Kudrow Kevin Dillon) who are vehemently anti-pet. Running out of ways to keep their stray pooch Friday hidden in plain sight they stumble on to an abandoned hotel that turns out to be the perfect shelter for Friday – and transform the place into luxury accommodations for all sorts of unwanted pets they spring from the local pound and the streets. But can they stay one step ahead of the law while keeping this United Nations of dogs in line? Human actors don’t have a chance against the gifted assortment of canines. With dogs of every breed from a border collie who loves to herd sheep (don’t ask) to an English bulldog obsessed with chewing stuff the trainers deliver a cast that flawlessly pulls off every dog trick in the book. Fortunately Roberts (Nancy Drew) and Austin are winning and likeable as the two main kids who share a need for family with their four-legged counterparts. Kudrow and Dillon don’t get a whole lot to do in strictly stereotyped roles but Don Cheadle as the kids’ social worker adds a nice touch of dignity and warmth to the story. For his first American feature German director Thor Freudenthal got the supreme challenge: working with kids and animals. Getting this furry menagerie to act on cue could not have been easy but Freundenthal and his talented trainers make it look so. Particularly amusing are the various gadgets and elaborate contraptions Bruce builds to keep the doggies occupied and quiet -- including simulated car windows they can stick their heads out of portable toilets complicated feeding machines and on and on. Just like the current hit Marley & Me it’s a funny and heartwarming family comedy.
Although it's modern day there's a distinct Raymond Chandler-esque feel to this story about a petty thief named Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) who lucks into a movie audition and finds himself heading to Hollywood. Harry is replacing Colin Farrell as a detective in a film and to get the realism of the part he's shown the detecting ropes by Det. Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer) also known as Gay Perry--because he's gay. Then Harry runs into his old high school sweetie Harmony (Michelle Monaghan) at a Hollywood party. She believes Harry is a real detective and begs him to help her. That's when the bodies begin coming out of the woodwork. Greed torture and mayhem ensue. If there's any way to prove that Downey is back in true form this is it. He's glib charming deep and truly becomes a modern-day Chaplin in this very trampy role. Kilmer avoids some of the stereotypes of playing gay but as he points out "we're not good cop bad cop we're fag and New Yorker." Both deserve awards. Monaghan holds her own as a feisty red-head. Even Downey's real-life son Indio--who plays his character in the early flashback scenes--shows incredible promise as an actor. This is the Shane Black’s directorial debut the same guy who wrote Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight. He knows violence that’s for sure but he also has a keen sense of humor. In Kiss Kiss he mixes them well. Black sets the mood with Downey--giving his best Bogie-like voiceover-- narrating the action along the way. This is better than Get Shorty as far as a dark look into the entertainment industry and far more entertaining. And as Harry's character promises "I've seen Lord of the Rings and we're not going to end this 17 times."
The sequel centers around an aspiring cartoonist named Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) who happens upon that magical mischievous mask from the original. After a whirlwind romantic night wearing the mask he gets his wife pregnant and nine months later boom! Little Alvey is born. But this is no ordinary baby. Seems he has inherited all the mask's powers and causes unimaginable amounts of mayhem for Tim. At the same time the Norse God of Mischief Loki (Alan Cumming) has come looking for his mask and will do whatever it takes to get it back. But wait there's more. The family's jealous dog also gets his paws on the mask and uses it for his own personal toy--as well as a ploy to get back at Alvey. Oh the insanity! The plot is stretched at best and lacks any of the charm of the Jim Carrey original.
Along with an abysmal story the performances are equally banal. Jamie Kennedy (Malibu's Most Wanted) who is best known for his off-the-wall characters is ill-suited as Tim never quite pulling off the new father thing much less a husband with a steady job. The usually stellar Alan Cumming (X2: X-Men United) takes Loki way over the top with the heavy eye-makeup and wild hair while his relationship with his father Odin--played loudly by Bob Hoskins--is sorely out of place. Alvey is a pretty cute kid however played by twins Liam and Ryan Falconer. And as his mom Traylor Howard (Me Myself and Irene) is sweet and awfully patient as Tim's wife--and who is also blissfully unaware her son can be a mischievous devil. You'd think she'd pick up on it when the baby blows his head up like a giant balloon but hey who knows?
While Son of the Mask does attempt to create Looney Tunes-ish eye candy director Lawrence Guterman (Cats & Dogs) seems to have forgotten how to effectively mix computer animation with live action especially with the digital Alvey. In the old days it would be equivalent to seeing all the strings and levers. Maybe we are used to perfection when it comes to CGI. We expect it all to look real. But in Son of the Mask the baby's face is so weirdly distorted it's scary. Also what made the original so fun was the mask itself. When Carrey cavorted around wearing it there were big musical numbers and wild antics. In Son it's the dog who wears the mask the most. Doesn't really have the same effect.