"Oculus," out in the United States and Canada on Friday,
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," said 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 said.
"It's all about perception because that's what the mirror plays
with," she added.
"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.
"DOCTOR WHO" TO NEBULA
"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
[to top of second column]
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
"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
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 said.
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 said 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
"And it's just fun to play the baddie," she added with a laugh.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine;
editing by Eric Kelsey and
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