Oculus (2013)


Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Jeff Seidman
Production Companies: Relativity Media, Intrepid Pictures, MICA Entertainment, WWE Studios, Blumhouse Productions, Lasser Productions
Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan
Genre: Horror

What It’s About: A woman sets out to prove that her brother is innocent of his murder charges by proving that a mirror from their past possesses some sort of supernatural power.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Night. Lights out.


General overview of the beginning without spoiling it:
Okay.  So you’ve got Kaylie (Gillan) and Tim (Thwaites). They’re brother and sister. The entire movie jumps back and forth between present time and their childhood (Basso and Ryan). We only get to see flashes of the past a little at a time, and as the movie continues, the story of their past slowly unravels while you simultaneously see what’s happening in the now.

We start out the movie knowing that Tim has been hospitalized because he was convicted of murdering his father as a young boy. He’s being released on his 21st birthday. Kaylie works at an auction house which has acquired an antique mirror.  But it’s not just any mirror, it’s the same mirror they had in their house when they were growing up. Kaylie’s on a mission to prove that her brother is innocent–to prove that the mirror is possessed or haunted, or in some way did all of those things that her brother was blamed for.

So, they return to their childhood home, and Kaylie sets up this elaborate room full of cameras and sensory equipment and booby traps. Tim, who’s been through years and years of therapy, no longer believes that something supernatural happened.  He believes that everything that happened was just a creation of his subconscious mind.  So, her first challenge is turning the skeptic back into a believer. As the night unravels, shit gets weird.

Enough about the plot. Blah blah blah.  Shit happens.

Okay.  One thing that bothered me right from the get-go (aside from Karen Gillan’s bangs) is that…Tim gets released from psychiatric detention after..what?….10 years? Okay. Good for him.  He can get on with his life. Then comes dear sister Kaylie to throw him RIGHT back into all the shit that he just spent years forgetting. I mean…come on!  I understand that she had to deal with the past on her own whilst jumping through foster care, and I get that she wants to kick this mirror’s ass…but COME ON.  Give the guy a frickin’ break! Maybe let him go get laid or something–I mean, you know he’s a virgin. He’s been locked up since he was a pre-teen. Ugh. But anyway, after I get over hating Kaylie at the beginning, the movie really kicks off.  She’s just fucking demented, but she’s also really fucking determined.  She’s prepared for this for a long time.

Now, the idea of a haunted mirror, doesn’t sound very scary to me.  I mean…to be perfectly honest, it sounds pretty stupid.  BUT, I can tell you that this movie is incredibly unsettling. The constant jumping back and forth between past and present, and sometimes intertwining them kind of makes you feel uneasy.  And this mirror can do a lot of shit, mmmmkay?  Like…it alters your mind if you’re within a certain radius of it.  Shit gets really weird.  They start imagining things, and we go on the ride with them as they try to decipher what is real and what is an illusion. It’s confusing and frustrating….but in a good way.  The way that the story was directed and edited made it highly successful.

Karen Gillan.  I was a little worried that I would only be able to see her as Amelia Pond from Doctor Who, but I got over it.  After I got over her fucking bangs. But that’s just me. I can definitely hear her Scottish accent coming through at times—a lot of times.  But once I get over the nitpicking, she did a pretty good job.

Brenton Thwaites. I just feel bad for him the entire time. Poor guy. His life really sucks. The fact that I feel for him, speaks to how well he plays Tim.

Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane. The elusive parents in the childhood segments. Really creepy stuff. I mean, these two basically become bitches to the supernatural forces….so think….DID patients (Dissociative Identiy Disorder AKA Multiple Personality Disorder). Kudos to them because they pull it off really well.

Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan.  The childhood versions of Kaylie and Tim. I was especially impressed with Basso.  She’s a great little actress.  Garrett Ryan was pretty strong, but Annalise just overshadowed him the whole time for me. Look forward to seeing what she does in the future.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t sure how successful a horror movie about a haunted mirror would be, but it definitely creeped me out.  If you want to get that weird stomach-churning-unsettling feeling in your gut, I suggest you watch this one. Don’t forget to turn the lights out!  😉

Where Can I Watch It?: I rented it at the local video store, but it looks like you can find it on Amazon Instant and iTunes.


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