Latest Reviews

  • True Supernatural - Season 1, Episode 1: "The Betty Hill Dress/The Rocky Mountain Demon Wolf"

    True Supernatural brings a new level of 'meh' to TV documentary filmmaking.     Read More
  • Nekromantik 2

    Zig goes back for sloppy seconds with this infamous sequel to the classic German necro-flick! Read More
  • Hellbreak #1

    Cullen Bunn and Brian Churilla mix mythology and outright terror in this new series from Oni Press.  Read More
  • Goners #6

    The Latimer children are faced with their greatest challenge yet as the first story arc concludes. Read More
  • Doc Unknown: Volume 2 – Winter of the Damned & Other Tales

    Pulp adventure with a supernatural twist comes to Gate City as Doc Unknown punches eveil right in the throat. Read More
  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

    Zig gets a valentine from Al Capone and falls in love all over again. Read More
  • Exterminators of the Year 3000

    Who needs originality when you have bad ass cars and explosions? Read More
  • Summer of Blood

    A fun, belly laugh inducing black comedy. Read More
  • Grace: The Possession

    Charlotte takes a look at Grace: The Possession.  Read More
  • Hoax Hunters #1

    The Hoax Hunters return, but how are they doing without Jack?  Can Regan, Ken, Donovan, Lauren, and Murder pick up the pieces? Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Latest News

  • Blood Feud Brings Deep Fried Horror This October +

    Oni Press announces new series from Cullen Bunn, Drew Moss, and Nick Filardi that mixes horror and humor in the Read More
  • Godzilla Goes to Hell +

    New mini-series from IDW Publishing sends the King of the Monsters through the gates of Hell this July. Read More
  • Kangas Kahn Films Looking for Horror Shorts +

    Look inside for info on the Christmas-themed anthology to be released this year as well as a sneak peek at Read More
  • Horror Channel Apocalypse Season +

     Emily Booth introduces Horror Channel's Apocalypse Season. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Home

 

Oculus Movie Review

 

Written by Karin Crighton


Official Site

 

 

Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard, based on a short by Jeff Howard, Mike Flanagan, and Jeff Seidman
2013, 105 minutes, Rated R
Theatrical release on April 11th, 2014


Starring:
Brenton Thwaites as Tim Russell
Karen Gillan as Kaylie Russell
Katee Sackhoff as Marie Russell
Rory Cochrane as Alan Russell
Annalise Basso as young Kaylie
Garrett Ryan as young Tim

 

 

 

Review:

 

Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is celebrating his 21st birthday with a festive release from the insane asylum. He’s been incarcerated for eleven years after shooting his father in self-defense. The story he told the police back in 2002 was that ghosts haunting the antique mirror in his father’s study had driven his parents mad and he had to kill his father to save his sister Kaylie. Years of intense therapy have convinced him it wasn’t true and he’s ready to move on with a normal life with his sister by his side. Problem is, Kaylie still believes it was ghosts. And she wants to fight back. 

There’s a lot of potential in Oculus but it loses steam as soon as Kaylie (played by Karen Gillan with a near-flawless American accent) and Tim enter their unsellable childhood home. Kaylie has rigged the place with the latest in technology in an attempt to outwit the murderous mirror, and her explanation of the oculus’ legend goes on and on. While necessary, it gets a bit monotonous. Tim starts out with fire in his heart; Kaylie seems to be spiraling into madness just when he has recovered and he is frustrated and frightened for her. But Thwaites is given nothing to do with these emotions; it all feels like a lame duck attempt to sway Kaylie with words when he could easily just pick her up and carry her outside. They hug immediately upon his release at the hospital; physical or emotional distance isn’t a problem with these siblings. Instead, he sees one sign of evidence that the mirror is possessed and that central conflict goes out the window. Tim and Kaylie watch along with us as writer/director Mike Flanagan shows us what “really” happened eleven years ago as their mother goes mad, their father fades into his own mind, and they attempt to get help in vain. It’s kinda cool to watch young Tim and older Kaylie inhabit the same screen on several occasions, but that alone doesn’t help the story save remind us they’re only mirroring the past (get it – mirror?). It makes sense for the child versions of Kaylie and Tim to be so helpless, but it’s a little annoying to watch adult Kaylie and Tim fail to learn anything from their mistakes and make no real attempt to escape history repeating itself.

 

 

 

 

I wish Flanagan had dived deeper into this idea. There’s a scene in which Kaylie reminds Tim that the mirror “ate” their lab. Tim tells her she doesn’t remember that the family dog contracted parvo, and had to be put down. The brief moment where we do not know which story is true is the most interesting of Oculus. Tim tells Kaylie that mental illness runs in their family and I hoped we’d find out sooner or later that all of the previous victims were relatives; that this is all a schizophrenic dream of older Tim after he watched his father strangle his sister. It wouldn’t even matter then if they repeated history in that version, the point is that he genuinely tried to move on and failed. 

But that doesn’t happen. Tim and Kaylie don’t learn anything. They don’t get the forgiveness of the parents they abandoned or killed, they don’t discover why the mirror is possessed, and they don’t explain what happens to the spirits trapped by the mirror. 

The acting is solid in the absence of tight direction; Gillan and Thwaites give solid performances that perhaps lack the warmness we know them capable of. The breakout performances come from their on-screen parents Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff. Cochrane delivers a sharply funny and frighteningly dark performance as Alan. He surrenders to his own paternal failings in a heartbreaking finale that devastates. Sackhoff is achingly vulnerable and open as a wife fearing a crumbling marriage, a mother resenting her children, and a woman coping with the inevitability of age.

The editing is excellent; the jump-cuts are lighting quick and the transitions between 2002 and 2013 are perfect, but that’s the only thing moving Oculus forward.

 

 

 

Grades:

 

Movie: threestars Cover

 

 

 

 

Shop for Horror at Amazon US or Amazon UK!

 

 

 

Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.

 

 

 

 

Search

OBEY - CONSUME

Contests

  • 1
  • 2