Vancity Buzz reviews Oculus and finds out whether the movie lives up to its tag: “You’ll see what it wants you to see.”
The film revolves around a haunted antique mirror that caused Kaylie (Karen Gillian) and Tim Russel’s (Brenton Thwaites) father to torture and murder their mother when they were kids. Several years later, Tim is being released out of a mental hospital and is being declared fit for society. Tim’s sister Kaylie picks him up and explains that she has a plan to prove the true events of what really happened the night of their parent’s murder picks up Tim. Flashbacks take place to explain the origin of the parent’s death to the present where we see the siblings dealing with the mirror as its influence grows and tries to kill them by augmenting reality. The evil in the mirror makes you see what it wants you to see. By mashing the past with the present, our lead characters fight to survive in a psychological thriller that will have you guessing throughout the film as to what is real and what is not.
The story and script for this film was fantastic and very out of the box. Unlike “The Conjuring” or “Insidious,” Oculus has two different storylines going at once with the flashback and present day plots going back and forth and then melting into each other as the siblings sense of reality gets more and more difficult to decipher. There were moments that made me cringe multiple times, I don’t want to give too much away but there is a scene with an apple and a lightbulb that will literally make you cry. I almost did.
As much as I enjoyed the story and the writing of the script, the one thing that was nagging at me the whole time was the premise of Kaylie, having spent so much time planning out this elaborate scheme to destroy this mirror and it having no effect whatsoever. It was hard for me to believe that someone would piss off this massive evil that can alter your perception of reality, half-cocked and just think “Hey! I’ll just stuff myself in a room with food, water, an anchor and countless alarms and everything will be fine!” That being said, the film is still very solid and you forget all of this as the story takes shape.
The child actors Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan who play the younger versions of Kaylie and Tim Russell were unbelievable. They basically carry half the film and not for one moment do they take you out of the story. Annalise’s performance especially reminded me a lot of when I first saw Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. You are watching these young performers just going for it and you can’t believe that someone so young can be this good. I really hope that we get to see more performances from her in the future.
Oculus is a roller coaster of emotions. It scares you and surprises you in its storytelling by not taking the usual conventions of the genre. Having both the past and present story lines being told at the same time allows you to pay much more attention the overall plot of the film and leaves you wanting to unravel the mystery of the mirror and the events that lead up to the films twisted and surreal environment.
Great acting that’s wonderfully shot with memorable moments, Oculus is a fun time at the movies and has an ending that will shock you and leaves the door open for future sequels down the road and we know how much horror films love their sequels. Oculus 5: Still can’t break that mirror eh?
Guest Post by Kevin Parr. Kevin is a producer’s assistant and a bartender. He’s also a film & pop-culture junkie and you can find him online @Kevinparr629.
Photo Credit: WWE Studios.