Oculus begins with a spooky mirror being auctioned off by Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan), the premise being that it has some sort of supernatural powers but that no buyer ever has knowledge of its capability prior to purchase.
Shortly after this, her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites) has turned 21 and is finally leaving a mental instituion after spending a number of years at their pleasure. On leaving, Kaylie picks him up and we learn that the mirror is with them at present, but has now been sold and will leave their possession in about a week, so they’ve only got a short amount of time “keep our promise and kill it”. Ooh, what’s all that about, eh?
Flash back to 11 years earlier when the mirror is first being delivered at Chez Russell’s new abode, where mum Marie (Katee Sackhoff) and dad Alan (Rory Cochrane) are dealing with the removal men (now doing the opposite of removing, as that’s how the second part of moving house works), and little by little, Oculus reveals the reasons why they clearly want to get shut of the thing.
I was pleased to find that Oculus was as entertaining as I’d been expecting, following all the build-up to it. It’s a classic old-school horror thriller which slowly reveals the plot bit by bit – the like of which we just don’t seem to get any more. It does sometimes get a little too clever for its own good as it twists and turns more than a twisty-turny thing, but it manages to work its way towards a satisfying conclusion. And there’s not many films you can say that about.
I also how one scene early on refers to Kaylie’s ‘night terrors’, which was also one of the episode titles from Doctor Who during Ms Gillan’s tenure.
Prior to watching this, I also thoguht that a film with both Gillan and Sackhoff would be a great idea. Unfortunately, since there’s an 11-year time gap between the two sets of scenes which play out, neither of them share a scene together. And even if they had, there’d be no way that, in the same era, Sackhoff looks old enough to be Gillan’s mum. Maybe next time…
Running time: 104 minutes
Released: June 13th 2014
Format: 2.35:1 (Arri Alexa Plus, Zeiss Ultra Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Producers: Marc D Evans and Trevor Macy
Screenplay: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard (based on a short screenplay by Mike Flanagan and Jeff Seidman)
Music: The Newton Brothers
Kaylie Russell: Karen Gillan
Tim Russell: Brenton Thwaites
Marie Russell: Katee Sackhoff
Alan Russell: Rory Cochrane
Young Kaylie: Annalise Basso
Young Tim: Garrett Ryan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.