After the violent deaths of Kaylie (Karen Gillan, Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy) and Tim’s (Brenton Thwaites, The Giver and Maleficent) parents, young Tim is blamed and sent to a mental facility for treatment. Kaylie holds on to the truth though: The mirror caused those and many more deaths before them. With the intent to clear her brother’s name, she tracks down the mirror and sets up an experiment to capture its evil. But the mirror is ready to fight back.
The remarkable thing about Oculus is how it wonderfully executes concepts that could easily fall into the realm of B-movie. The mirror is inhabited by an evil, ghostly woman, but rather than relying only on typical and stale imagery, she has her own personality and extremely creepy vibe going on.
One of the main concepts is that the mirror can warp perception. The characters, and viewers, can never be certain what’s real. But we definitely know the motives which gives us direction and context: the mirror’s self-preservation and utterly destroying the living. This builds a lot of tension, as how they react to perceived dangers can have huge consequences in the hidden reality.
The filmmakers were also to expertly utilize flashbacks within Oculus. Kaylie and Tim are brought back to their childhood home where the original incident occurred. Emotions are high and the threat is clear. Is it a storytelling mechanic? Are the characters just remembering? Or are the flashbacks the mirror’s doing, putting them back into a scared and helpless state of mind? Or maybe it’s a mix of all three that feeds into the uncertainty of reality.
While the ending could have gone a couple different ways, I was okay with where it ended, though I can see it ruffling a few feathers. There is also sequel, and pre-sequel, potential here, especially with Jeff Blum (Paranormal Activity and Insidious franchises) as executive producer. I would definitely would be all for more Oculus films if they’re as good as this one!
Oculus has jumped straight to the top of the list of my favorite perception-based and horror films. I highly recommend it!