The producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity got it right with Oculus. I don’t expect much from major cineplex horror releases. I know it sounds glib, but the bulk of mainstream horror films are increasingly disappointing to me. Oculus, however, this is a wonderful minimalist film that offers effective horror and mood without the predictable jump out scares I can’t seem to get away from. You’ll find nothing but intelligent film-making here.
Convicted of murdering his parents, Tim (Brenton Thwaites), now an adult, is released from a mental facility on his 21st birthday. Always claiming innocence, his older sister, Kailey (Karen Gillan, Doctor Who) plans on exonerating Tim since she was there the night of the killings. The kids’ father, Alan (Rory Cochrane) decorated his office wall with an ornate mirror now believed to be a cursed object called the “Lesser Glass”. Kailey obsessively researched the mirror, finding a trail of blood connecting every former owner. Determined to prove she knows the mirror’s power and pattern, she decks out the former home in video cameras, timers, and devices to catch evidence of the object’s supernatural power. The film jumps back and forth from the present, to the days before the death of her parents, showing the viewer the dominating presence that entered their home.
Utilizing flashbacks, Oculus, weaves a clever story together focusing on the haunted objet d’art and its effects on its owners over the years. Not content to suffer the mirror any longer, Kaylie and Tim inflate their horror balls and attempt to silence the Lesser Glass once and for all. Rated R for pure scare value, the absence of nudity, over-the-top blood, and cursing demonstrates director, Mike Flanagan’s concise skill. Karen Gillan’s believable performance made Oculus for me. While this is nothing new for horror, it is a well-crafted and terrifying story to make you leave the theater with your teeth clenched tight. Kudos.