Oculus might not be the greatest horror movie ever made, but it was effective enough to make me apprehensive when looking into the mirror in the men’s room after seeing the film. That is one place you don’t want anything looking back at you.
Karen Gillan stars as Kaylie – a young woman desperate to uncover the truth. Her brother, Tim (Brenton Thwaites), has been held in a mental health facility since a horrible childhood incident left them without their parents. However, Kaylie doesn’t believe her brother was mentally ill. She wants to show the world how evil inhabits an ancient mirror that was hanging in her father’s office, and how it has been causing havoc for centuries, especially with her family.
Is the mirror haunted?
Can Kaylie and Tim survive the night to prove it to the world?
Oculus has an interesting premise. I just wish the team had a bit more resources and material to execute it better.
Writer/director Michael Flanagan and co-writer Jeff Howard need to give Oculus more action and more menacing. Flanagan is good at trying to make this movie about the atmosphere rather than graphic horror, but a few more moments that shock us out of our seats would have made Oculus memorable instead of moody.
The movie is best when evil manifests itself, and we see figures moving around the house to scare the daylights out of us, or when our heroes desperately are confronting tricks and mind games played by evil to make us wonder what is real and what is deception. It’s just not that scary to be looking at an old mirror hanging on the wall (no one even looks into it and asks if they are the fairest of them all). Frankly, at times, it’s more comedic than frightening as the dangerous music plays and the screen shows a shot of the mirror doing nothing!!!!!
However, Flanagan and Howard, do a good job building up some mystery and tension as we go back in time and watch the action of that first fateful night running parallel to the events of this investigation being conducted by Kaylie, especially when it focuses on her.
Gillan is a superstar in the making. She has great intensity and screen presence, especially when compared to Thwaites, who seems lost in his role. Sure, he is supposed to be portraying a young guy struggling with his mental health, but Thwaites always seems overly apprehensive as an actor, while Gillan is putting in a performance that is much better than what is written on the pages in her script. I hope she gets a bigger and better movie because of this.
Oculus is almost passable.
Oculus is rated R for terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language.