Oculus (2013)

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Based on: the short film Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan
Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, James Lafferty
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) was just released from a mental institution where he was committed for shooting his father (Rory Cochrane) when he was a kid after the father had killed their mother. Tim and his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) were always convinced that something supernatural had made their father do it but after years of therapy, Tim doesn’t believe that anymore. But for Kaylie that has never changed. She only waited for him to be released to finally face the evil again that lives in their father’s antique mirror – and to get rid of it once and for all.

Oculus wasn’t bad but it wasn’t partiuclarly good either. I didn’t mind watching it but it’s far from a must-see.



Oculus most outstanding feature is that the biggest part of the film, the part where Kaylie and Tim confront whatever lurks in the mirror, happens on two time levels simultaneously. As we move through the house it seamlessly changes between Kaylie and Tim as kids (impressively played by Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan – especially Basso) and Kaylie and Tim now. I really loved that kind of narrative structuring.

Other things didn’t work that well for me. Even though the way the thing in the mirror got into people’s heads was really creepy, I hated that we didn’t get a proper motivation for it, or just a general understanding of how it operated. Some people it apparently drains the life energy from and starves them to death. Some people it drives insane and makes them kill other people. And for some people it makes them kill themselves. But what and why? Nobody knows. I wanted a bit more resolution there. (There were generally some logic gaps in what happens to people.) I would have also wished for a happier ending especially because the way things went down in the end were very trope-y. But I could live with that ending.

Oculus1Most of the things though, where good, just not great. Karen Gillan acted this time around (contrary to Guardians of the Galaxy) which was nice and Brenton Thwaites wasn’t bad either. The soundtrack was pretty good, too (with the exception of this song which was fantastic).

But altogether it was one of the more mediocre movies that was just missing the je-ne-sais-quoi to be really good.

Oculus2Summarizing: See if you catch it on TV sometime or so.

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