Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Oculus (2013)

Since my wife and I enjoy a good horror movie, we keep our ears open for positive reviews. Well this film got quite a few, and when we discovered that Amy Pond of Doctor Who fame was in the film that just pushed it up the list. Does the film serve up scares and live up to the accolades, or is it all fish sticks without the custard.

Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) has come to grips with the gruesome events that destroyed his family. As a child he witnessed his mother and father lose their minds and turn murderous without any rhyme or reason. Years of therapy have helped him cope and now he’s free to leave the sanitarium. But his sister, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) has made up her mind that supernatural forces were at work, and now with her brother’s help, she’s going to face her past.

You see, she is convinced a cursed mirror unleashed dark spirits into the home, spirits she saw as a child (and is convinced her brother saw as well). She’s managed to obtain the mirror, and has set up a series of experiments in their old home. Her goal is to capture the supernatural events on camera and then destroy the mirror. Once this is complete, she’ll be free of her past. Tim is less then convinced, and even begins to wonder if his sister has already lost her mind and he is the only one dealing with reality. But what is reality when staring into the Oculus of the haunted mirror.

Good Points:
  • Some good jump scares and a disturbing moment with an apple
  • Thwaites and Gillan do a fine job as siblings
  • Manages to twist reality and keep the viewer guessing

Bad Points:
  • Never really manages to build its creepy premise to a satisfying conclusion
  • The foreshadowed outcome hurts the film
  • The score ends up grating rather than helping 

Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high on this one. But I think this is a case where the total doesn’t equal the sum of the parts. I usually like reality-shifting films, but about half way through, I saw very clearly where this one was going. Because I was so confident in the ending, I felt no tension for the characters. I knew how it would play out. However, there are some interesting thematic elements dealing with abuse and trust. Not a bad film, but one that could have done a bit more with the premise and done a better job not telegraphing its conclusion so much.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 2
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I have this in my Q, but I haven't felt too great a need to push it up much. I enjoy a pretty good horror movie too ever so often, but these days it's pretty rare for them to be done well. I'm anxious too see what The Babadook yeilds.

    1. I'll spin them more frequently than I should. Usually you end up with something pretty ripe, but they can be fun too. This one was right in the middle. It was entertaining, but it could have done a bit more with the premise.

  2. Amazon recommends this to me through whatever form of algorithmic magic they employ. I've hesitated until now because mirrors scare me too: they keep reflecting back some old guy instead of the handsome young man I know myself to be.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean. I keep seeing this guy losing his hair and I don't know who he is. It might be showing up due to the "Doctor Who" connection.