For an art project, a young man (Chris Phillips) goes out into The
Hollows, a wooded area that's supposed to be cursed and might have
been the location of as many as 150 murders, armed only with a video
camera and video glasses.
At first, everything goes really well, he
finds lots of weird things in the forest he wouldn't have expected
(including an old self-made oil drill) but that make great pictures, but
the darker it gets, the less comfortable he feels: He hears strange
noises, finds traces of violence (though perhaps only in his mind), and he
can't take the feeling he's being watched. Since it's too late to go back
to the car and return to civilisation now, our hero builds himself a big
fire to ward off whatever it is ... but as soon as he has dozed off, the
fire is extinguished, much to his terror, and now he knows something's
just waiting to attack. He runs, and makes it to a house where he hopes to
get help or at least a telephone - but what he finds is much more
disturbing than anything he witnessed out in the forest: Weird and
possibly Satanic objects, pages torn from a book of Black Magic,
sacrificial knives ... and then he witnesses someone outside, a masked man
- or something worse.
Shot as a found footage movie, Optica
is quite certainly one of the better films of the fad, basically because
it's based on a solid story arc (even if the set-up could have been
cropped a little) and thus has a real mystery at its center, and it
doesn't relie on all these mainstays that one has come to hate about the
genre, like gross overacting of the behind-the-camera-guy, an
over-reliance on shaky camerawork in place of suspense, too many cheap
home-made effects (the tapping of fingers on tent-walls is my [least]
favourite of those) to fake authenticity and the like, and totally
outrageous ideas why these people might want to hold on their cameras.
Instead, Optica relies on build-up, growing suspense and nicely set
shocks, and a few really macabre twists towards the ending.