Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Oculus" By The Newton Brothers

The Newton Brother's sparse score for Mike Flanagan's engrossing horror film "Oculus" has a lot of ominous movement; low end synthesizers up front pulse and lose and gain tempo, while strings hang further back in the mix and glide downward in murky reverbs. This creates a perfect backdrop that never distracts or draws undue attention to itself. It calls to mind classic 70's and 80's scores without sounding trite; it's innovative enough so that everything sounds fresh and reverential at the same time. The spooky piano tune at the end is especially notable.

The film itself has plenty of good thrills, clever misdirection and psychological horror a la "The Shining"; the tension rarely relents as we watch an antique mirror manipulate a family into bloody murder. Although the mirror as a prop for good scares is a longstanding and effective device in horror films, I can't recall another film that specifically centers around a mirror itself, and the music gives it life and breath.

Highly recommended.

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