Relativity’s Oculus (review), directed by Mike Flanagan hits theaters in wide release this Friday, April 11th. You’ve seen the trailers by now and if, based on those, you even remotely think this is the movie for you, it probably is. It very much delivers on that aesthetic.
I recently sat down with the film’s lead, Karen Gillan (pictured above; “Doctor Who”, Guardians Of The Galaxy) in Austin, TX. I found her to be an energetic and engaging conversationalist, even though we had very little time to speak due to the hustle and bustle of SXSW. Still, based on her performance in this alone, she’s going places.
“The story centers on a murder that left two children orphans with authorities charging the brother while his sister believed that the true culprit was a haunted antique mirror. Now completely rehabilitated and in his twenties, the brother is ready to move on but his sister is determined to prove that the haunted mirror was responsible for destroying their family.” Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Brenton Thwaites, Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan also star.
When you read this script what was the first thing that went through your head?
[laughs] That there was a 13 page monologue I had to deal with! It was actually a lot harder to learn than if it was a conversational thing of if it had some emotional logic to it. But it wasn’t that, it was a presentation of facts. So that was a challenge. Also I just loved the story and the way it was told. I loved the two timelines. I loved that we got to make a scary horror film that’s a real character piece. Ultimately the stuff we shot was just two people in a room, really.
Did you two have time to prepare? Sometimes you don’t on these things.
Oh yeah, we rehearsed like crazy. I mean we just went to town on that. We just didn’t have any time when we were shooting, so the only way to get everything was to block it beforehand.
It’s a very technical tightrope you’re walking, I imagine it’s easy for an actor to get lost in all of it.
We needed refreshers constantly. That’s where [director] Mike Flanagan came in. He would let us know where we were in relation to everything that was happening in terms of VFX or the story. It starts off normal and gradually gets more explosive until it all comes crashing down. So it was important that we all knew emotionally where we were. Without that there would have been no logical progression.
Was there anything in the script that made you doubt if you could do the film?
Probably just that monologue. To be fair, I jumped into it and I was like, “I’m going to go for it and accept the challenge!” But there was a moment when I was working with my dialect coach and I remembered that I was going to have to talk for 10 minutes straight, in one take, in an accent that was not my own.
But content wise you were okay?
Yeah! I’m pretty into gory films and horror films! You know, it’s scary to put kids in that situation, but they had the best time.
Well now you have to tell me what your favorite horror films are.
I love horror films and grew up on them as a teenager. That’s all I would pretty much watch. Scream is my favorite. I just love that it’s directly addressing the genre and telling us what the rules are. And then executing them all as described. I loved The Exorcist, I used to watch that on my own in bed which was a terrible idea when I was younger. What else? I loved all the cheesy slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer and there’s this one we used to watch called Death Of A Cheerleader starring Tori Spelling. I think it was a TV movie but we managed to get it on video somehow and we would watch it all the time.