Posted April 12, 2014 by in


Total Score

4.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: horror
Director: Mike Flanagan
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: 4/11/2014
Studio: Intrepid Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, WWE Studios
What We Thought

Oculus is not just about the horrors that can happen to the body, but to the mind.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Oculus is the scariest films I’ve ever seen.  It’s terrifying…
     Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) is released from a psychiatric facility on his 21st birthday, having been committed 11 years earlier.  His older sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) picks him up, and promises to help get him back on his feet.  However, she wants him to fulfill the promise he made to her years earlier, one terrifying night.
     11 years earlier, the Russell family moved in to a new house.  Their father, Alan Russell (Rory Cochrane), purchased new furnishings for their new home, including an antique mirror for his home office.  Shortly after, their mother Marie (Katee Sackhoff) has a breakdown, and tries to harm Tim and Kaylie.  Their father soon kills their mother, and Tim murders his father.  Or did he?
     Tim has finally come to terms with what happened, but his sister tells him that he’s remembering it wrong, that he was never responsible for their father’s death; it was their father’s antique, the Lasser Mirror, which destroyed their family and shattered their lives.
     Kaylie’s research links the mirror to the gruesome deaths of 45 people over four centuries, and sets up an elaborate experiment to prove that the mirror is haunted, and curses whoever comes into possession of it.  Kaylie wants Tim to help her destroy the mirror, as he had promised—that is, if the mirror will let them.
     On a scale of 1 to 10 for how scary it is, Oculus is a 10.  It’s that scary.  This film puts ordinary, vulnerable children in danger.  Their mother needs help.  The police won’t come.  Most frightening yet is that the threat comes from their own parents, who have fallen into madness.  They must find it within themselves to be brave in the face of Evil, absolute and ravenous.
     That very evil deceives Kaylie and Tim as well, causing their minds to play tricks on them.  They see things that are not there—or are they?  This deception causes them to hurt themselves and those around them.  Oculus is not just about the horrors that can happen to the body, but to the mind.
     Annalise Basso and Karen Gillian give strong performances as the child and grown-up Kaylie.  Gillian has an unwavering sense of purpose in her tone of voice that betrays her character’s obsession, while Thwaites brings a carefully constructed rationality that hints at Tim’s fragile psyche.
     Like the Lasser Mirror itself, Oculus has a crack, a noticeable flaw, or two. The dialog feels artificial in spots, and the contraption built to destroy the mirror is a bit far-fetched.  Furthermore, there comes a point where Kaylie should simply destroy the mirror and be done with it, and the only the only thing she has to do to that end, is nothing.
     Despite its flaws, I couldn’t recommend it more for pure scares.  It’s gruesome, disturbing.  With frightening imagery and malevolence at its core, it’s The Ring of this year, quite possibly this decade.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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