Oculus (2013)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Feels like a throwback to old horror films

Could have done even more with the story and background of the mirror

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Oculus

Studio:  Blumhouse Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 8, 2013 (Toronto International Film Festival)/April 11, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


So…want to kill a mirror?

Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) has lived a troubled life and now at twenty-one he is getting a second chance after his release from an institution.  Unfortunately, a childhood promise to his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) is forcing Tim to face the demons of his childhood that he thought he had imagined.  Locking themselves in their former home with a mirror that Kaylie believes is cursed, Tim recalls his childhood and what really happened to his father (Rory Cochrane) and their mother (Katee Sackhoff).

Directed by Mike Flanagan, Oculus is a supernatural thriller based on Flanagan’s short film Oculus:  Chaper 3—The Man with the Plan from 2006 which was the first part of a planned series of films.  The movie was met with relatively positive reviews and fairly successful due to its small budget.

I picked up Oculus on a whim with little expectations.  The movie turned into a nice little twisting film which while somewhat predictable, felt like a throwback to earlier horror films.


I only eat energy efficient light bulbs!

The story is rather predictable, but it does do interesting things. The movie reminds me a bit of old Night Gallery episodes or a Tales from the Darkside story.  The horror is as direct as the horror from the producers other films Insidious and Paranormal Activity, but it is more of a creeping horror.  I also like how the story of Tim and Kaylie’s childhood parallels the story of their present day encounters with the mirror…It does loose some scare factor in the sense you can tell it is a doomed situation from the start.

The cast for the movie is quite strong.  Both Brenton Thwaies and Karen Gillan do a good job holding the film which primarily relies on them to bring the scares.  I like that the roles are reversed with the “crazy one” trying to be the sane one opposed to Gillan’s driven character.  It is also  a good cast in the past with both Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane playing a couple falling apart without a thought of their children.


I am out for revenge for the ending of Battlestar Galactica!

The visuals for the movie are somewhat weak.  I would have liked a little more horror eye candy from the producers who have the struggle of making a mirror scary.  It doesn’t quite work, but it is an effective attempt.

Oculus was a pleasant surprise in that it was a very low key, traditional horror film.  With little gore and guts, and no monster, the supernatural aspect feels like it could have come from any time period.  With the film meeting some success and a potentially opening ending, I would be surprised if Oculus surfaced again with a sequel…and I would probably see it.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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