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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Oculus | Brenton Thwaites, Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

 

Oculus

Most horror movies are a variation on the same, usual formula.  So I didn't have high expectations when I went to see Oculus, which I thought would be another run of the mill scare fest. To my surprise, Oculus wound up being a smartly written, meticulously crafted film featuring strong performances from the entire cast.

Stylishly directed by Mike Flanagan (who also edited) working from a script he co-wrote with Jeff Howard, Oculus, (that was adapted and lengthened from Flanagan's 2006 short film)  revolves around a haunted mirror.  That basic element may sound familiar, but the unfolding scenario takes some unusual, unforeseen twists and turns.

Ten years after being incarcerated in a mental institution for killing his father after his mother was murdered, 21 year old Tim Russell  (Brenton Thwaites) is released and reunited with his older sister, 23 year old Kaylie (Dr. Who's Karen Gillan) who is determined to prove that her sibling wasn't responsible for the heinous crime.  She is convinced that an ornately framed antique mirror from their childhood home is possessed by a malevolent supernatural force that she has traced to a history of deaths to its owners going back four centuries.

 Kaylie, who works for a prestigious auction house and was able to track down and borrow the mirror, takes Tim back to the house where both of their parents (Katee Sackhoff who played Starbuck in TV's Battlestar Galactica, and Rory Cochrane) died.  To put her theory to the test, she hooks up electronic recording devices and cameras to detect and capture any and all strange occurrences.  Although Kaylie thinks she can outsmart whatever evil entity lives in the mirror, we all know that isn't gonna happen.  Not to be messed with, soon the mirror's devious intentions come into motion, which consists of playing dangerous mind tricks on Kaylie and her brother.

Within the unfolding narrative are flashbacks to Kaylie and Tim's younger selves  (a perfectly cast Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan) and past events cleverly intertwined with the present as they relive that horrific night of their parent's demise. Reality soon blends with terrifying hallucinations and the question of what is real and isn't comes into play.

Rather than over filled with slash and gore, the filmmaker has created a frightening, psychological thriller that messes with your mind.  Sure there are some scary, jump out of your seat moments and a few gruesome, bloody scenes, but instead of going for shock value, like the “eye” of the title and the demonic mirror, Oculus, captures your attention and draws you in.  To sum it up, Oculus is a well executed, satisfying horror tale that leaves the door (or more aptly put, mirror) open for a sequel.

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