Damian McCarthy sure does love a creepy antique. If you don’t recall the director’s previous effort Caveat, you at least remember the film’s desiccated stuffed bunny which featured heavily in its plot about sick family secrets hiding within the bones of a remote Irish house. McCarthy scales-up the prop-fetishism (and scares!) in Oddity, which centers around a terrifying human-size wooden effigy that may hold the key to righting a wrong committed against an innocent women. 

Carolyn Bracken (You Are Not My Mother) stars as Dani, who answers the door one night and is greeted by a mysterious man named Olin Boole (Tadhg Murphy) who claims that she has an intruder in her home. Initially skeptical, she decides to let the man in before the film leaps forward. A while later, Boole has died after taking the fall for Dani’s murder and her doctor husband Ted (Gwilym Lee) still lives in the house where she was murdered, having moved onto a new relationship. Dani’s twin Darcy (also Bracken), however, has questions about her sister’s death. A blind curio shop owner with the ability to touch objects and discover what became of their owners, Darcy shows up at Ted’s home with a personal item of Boole’s and a trunk stuffed with a wooden man once gifted to her mother by a witch. Darcy intends to use her powers and tools to uncover what really happened to Dani, but is unprepared for the interference of someone hell bent on letting the truth stay buried. 

Set in a medieval courtyard house that feels anything but cozy, Oddity is, much like Caveat,  a largely one-locale affair that makes excellent use of its limited space. The flagstone floors, exposed wood, and rough-hewn brick of the film’s murder house conjures an atmosphere of ancient, primeval knowledge that beautifully sets the stage for Darcy’s, well, odd sort of mediumship. Production designer Lauren Kelly pulls out all the stops, decorating McCarthy’s world with assorted eerie bric-à-brac, including a plot relevant haunted bell and a very familiar bunny. But the piece de resistance is, of course, the wooden man at the film’s center. McCarthy uses the object sparingly, first alluding to him before showing him and cutting to him for startling and occasionally humorous jump scares. McCarthy’s unsettling creation might not give Sandor Stern’s Pin a run for the scariest movie mannequin title, but it’s an admirable effort. 

Though Oddity is an enjoyably twisty watch and effective ghost story, there’s a notable lack of originality here that softens its effectiveness. McCarthy is drawing from the Twilight Zone and E.C. Comics a little too heavily, presenting a morality tale that doesn’t even make overtures that it might try to subvert expectations. Oddity’s spookability outweighs its creativity, which is fine for now, but here’s to hoping that McCarthy continues building on the promising raw material of his considerable scaremaking talent and can gift viewers something truly odd next time. 

Movie Score: 3/5

  • Rocco T. Thompson
    About the Author - Rocco T. Thompson

    Rocco T. Thompson is a writer and critic based in Austin, Texas. His work is frequently featured in Rue Morgue where he penned the cover story for the magazine's first ever Queer Fear special issue, and he served as producer for In Search of Darkness: Part III, the final installment in the popular ‘80s horror documentary series.