"Oculus" is a 2013 horror film directed by Mike Flanagan, director of "Hush" (2016) and "Ouija": Origin of Evil (2016). This movie made around $12 million opening weekend and almost grossed $28 million in the USA alone. I expected this film to receive more views because the main character is played by Karen Gillan, most notably recognized as Whovians’ favorite companion from Doctor Who. But alas, this featured presentation still goes unseen and even unheard of by many casual movie goers and movie aficionados.
The premise of the horror is that Tim Russell (played by Brenton Thwaites) is discharged from a 10 year stay in a psychiatric institution after his father tortured and killed his mother before Tim went and killed him. Tim’s sister, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) is convinced that the reason his father did all those terrible things was because of an immortal haunted mirror that has mentally harassed countless people throughout history and that she has a plan to stop it once and for all (which is super helpful for someone who just recently recovered from severe childhood trauma). The film then follows the bizarrely gruesome mind games that the mirror generates.
This movie received a small amount of hype due to the quality of the actors that were cast, but did not become a box office hit because it was seen as some generic ghost story. It received an audience rating of just 53% and those who sincerely enjoyed it were deemed “bandwagoners”. Critics generally loved the movie, rating it at 73% and even commenting that it is a film “with an emphasis on dread over gore and an ending that leaves the door wide open for sequels” and that it “could be just the first spine-tingling chapter in a new franchise for discerning horror fans.”
Personally, this is one of the few horror movies I enjoyed. I will warn you that it is largely just jump scares and suspense, but it has a unique twist on a classic haunted evil object story and the acting is good throughout. The best thing about this film is how it forces both the characters and the viewers to honestly doubt what is real and what is supernatural deception. There is a scene that is included in the trailer where Kaylie takes a bite of an apple she was eating but then perceives it as a lightbulb that she has freshly bitten into. If that scene doesn’t make your spine tingle, I don’t know what will. Aside from very well executed visual trickery that leaves you increasingly on edge until the end, the movie also goes back and forth between Tim’s and Kaylie’s modern day selves and their younger, more recently traumatized selves. The main conduits of horror are the main character’s parents, the relatable murderous father (Rory Cochrane) and the insane mother (Katee Sackhoff), both of who were excellently cast for those parts and were responsible for some of the best acting in the film.
In conclusion, jump on the bandwagon, even though it’s late. This is a horror film that every movie buff or casual horror film spectator should witness, I can assure you that this movie will bother you at least once during its 104-minute runtime and the story won’t bore you to death as much as many more-popular horror films will (I’m looking at you Paranormal Activity 1,2,3,4, & Ghost Dimension). That’s right, they made 5 Paranormal Activity movies that can put an insomniac to sleep before anything remotely scary happens.