Gillan plays with perceptions in ghostly thriller 'Oculus'
A haunted mirror, a murderous father and two siblings seeking revenge form the plot for the new supernatural thriller “Oculus,” which blurs perceptions and reality with ghostly scares.
“Oculus,” out in the United States and Canada on April 11, follows a young woman, Kaylie, who reunites with her brother Tim after his release from an institution where he was held for a decade for killing their father, who had murdered their mother.
Kaylie is convinced that a large, ornate mirror in their home caused the mental instability and subsequent demise of her parents, and is determined to clear her father's name of murder by proving the mirror is haunted by a manipulative entity.
“Kaylie is not running from the entity, she's running to it, and the worse it gets, the more happy and excited she gets because it's verifying everything that she believed, so it's just counteracting everything that we're used to,” says British actress Karen Gillan, discussing her character.
The film flits between past and present, and what is real is constantly called into question as the two siblings try to right a heinous wrong. In one particularly unsettling scene, Kaylie bites into an apple, only to find it's a light bulb.
“To play with who's sane, who's insane, we start off thinking that Kaylie is completely together and then we gradually think that maybe she's totally unhinged,” Gillan says.
“It's all about perception because that's what the mirror plays with,” she adds.
“Oculus” is the latest release from producer Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions, the company behind the runaway success of “Paranormal Activity,” a film made for $11,000 that grossed $193 million at the worldwide box office, spawning a franchise for Paramount Pictures, which distributed the films. Five “Paranormal Activity” films have grossed $807 million globally.
The “Paranormal” franchise deals with a supernatural demonic entity that haunts the interconnected families featured in each film, and has set off a new wave of ghostly horror films.
“Horror movies have gotten much more supernatural-focused, and I think that's what the trend is at the moment, but I think, at some point, it'll swing back to more real, horrible events,” Blum says.
Blum said the budget for “Oculus,” which will be distributed in the United States and Canada by Relativity Media, is on par with his other successful recent horror films “Sinister,” “Insidious” and “The Purge,” placing it between $1.5 million and $3 million.
“Oculus” is expected to take in $13 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters in its opening weekend, according to Boxoffice.com. Relativity paid $2.5 million for domestic distribution rights.
Scotland native Gillan, 26, had her breakthrough role in 2010, playing Amy Pond on British time-travel sci-fi television series “Doctor Who,” an experience that she called “my three years of drama school.”
Since then, she has been cast as the villain Nebula in the upcoming Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a role that she shaved her long red hair for.
“The female villain in the film, that is something I've never done before, it's brand-new territory, and I just thought I'm going to have some fun with this,” the actress says.
In addition to shaving her head, Gillan trained for two months to get into the physical shape of Nebula, a sadistic assassin employed by super-villain Thanos. She says she is fascinated by human behavior and psychology.
“Finding the motivation for her to be the baddie is quite interesting. It's like being a lawyer, finding the redeeming features so that she's not just bad for the sake of being bad,” she says.
“And it's just fun to play the baddie,” she adds with a laugh.
Piya Sinha-Roy is a staff writer for Reuters. Reuters staff writer Lisa Richwine contributed to this story.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DVD reviews: ‘The Normal Heart,’ ‘Blended’ and ‘Belle’
- Small Pittsburgh theaters are big hits with movie-theme parties