Title – Oculus (2013)
Director – Mike Flanagan (Absentia)
Cast – Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackoff, Rory Cochrane
Plot – Recently released from his time in a mental institution, Tim (Thwaites) teams up with his estranged older sister Kayliee (Gillan) to wage a battle to discover the true power behind the family’s old mirror, a mirror that seemingly played a part in the murder of both of their parents in a tragic event when they were children.
“I’ve met my demons and they are many”
Review by Eddie on 31/10/2014
Overflowing with half-baked ideas, moments of pure unbridled terror and enough haunting mirror shots to put you off seeing your reflection for some time, Mike Flanagan’s low budget and meandering horror Oculus is a movie too short on genuine quality filmmaking and due to some annoying central acting turns, a movie that never engages in the way in which its story could’ve allowed.
Oculus is a lot different to many other recent horror films in that it wastes barely any time by jumping the audience straight into the thick of it concerning brother and sister duo Kaylie and Tim and there vendetta against one very nasty mirror. It’s refreshing in a sense that Flanagan was willing to get virtually straight into business but it certainly takes the viewer a good 30 – 40 minutes to properly engage with what is transpiring in front of them as Kaylie and Tim aren’t what you’d call fully formed characters we are on side with due to underwritten roles and some terrible acting from Karen Gillan as Kaylie in particular. It’s in Oculus’s present day scenes in which the movie gets bogged down the most and with Flanagan’s tendency to mix in flashbacks with present day scenes, often in conjunction with one another the films impact to scare and thrill is lessoned despite the fact the film really comes to life when the flashback scenes are given time on their own.
It’s in these flashbacks to when Kaylie and Tim were children and their parents Marie and Alan played by Katee Sackoff and Rory Cochrane were experiencing some “issues” that Oculus really showcases just what could’ve been. Not only are these scenes a lot more interesting that what is happening in the present there often downright creepy, giving the film a unique horrific feel that mixes in real life horrors and that of the more supernatural kind to great effect. From these segments you get a feel for the overall tone Oculus was going for and Flanagan makes the most of the mirror’s ability to fragment reality by producing some wince inducing moments often involving munching on something that isn’t all that edible or a family member acting anything but normal. With these scenes being the films best, you really do wish that the film focussed more on the past and far less on the present.
Oculus has some very recommendable elements, from some fine musical cues, some neat unique ideas for scares and some truly frightening gross out moments, but overall the film fails to capitalise on the pieces of the puzzle that is laid down and come the films forgettable final act, you’d wish that all involved had seized the moment and produced something far more memorable as a whole, not just sparse moments of genuine horror goodness.
2 extra crunchy light bulbs out of 5