Film Review: Oculus

By Becky Todd

As seen in Pegasus Pages (Summer 2014)

Film: Oculus (2013); Directed by: Mike Flanagan; Genre: Horror; Cert: 15+

Rating: 4/5       

Mirrors. An easy way to make an audience jump out of their skins as something supernatural appears unexpectedly in a mirror. It’s boring and predictable, yet somehow still manages to prevent us looking into a mirror for the next few days. However, despite the main supernatural plot feature being an evil mirror, Oculus manages not to overuse this trope.

Oculus is the story of two siblings, who, as children, experienced the death of both parents at, they believed, the hands of a haunted antique mirror. The film begins 11 years after these events, with the immovable Kaylie trying to re-convince her brother that the mirror was indeed responsible for the deaths. Over the course of an evening, despite the fail-safes diligently put in place, both siblings are steadily overcome by the power of the mirror, hallucinating and unable to distinguish what is real. The film was brilliant in the way it blends past and present, and reality and imagined. The script expertly explores both timelines, the present and 11 years ago.

Throughout the film, the two become more and more intertwined until they seem to be happening simultaneously and neither the characters nor audience are quite sure which timeline is occurring at any given moment.The fear is not created from cheap scare-shots, but by more psychological means. showing the terror of two young children whose parents are going mad, and the adults who believe they are one step ahead of the mirror but never are. The destruction it causes is never done by the mirror itself, but by warping its victims’ perceptions of reality until they self-destruct. Combined with simple but effective staging and fantastic acting from Karen Gillian and Brenton Thwaites, this film is a must-see for horror lovers and anyone who wants a good scaring.

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