Review: Oculus

Title: Oculus
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins

What It Is: Tim and Kaylie Russell have been through some stuff. First they witness the murder of their mother at their fathers hands and then Tim shoots his father. Or did he? Perhaps he’s remembering it wrong? No one really knows what real and what not when the Lasser Glass is around. You see this simple mirror causes chaos of the worst order. It feeds off of the fear of those around it. And ten years ago it got to the Russell family leaving Kaylie in foster care, and Tim in a mental hospital. Now on his 21st birthday having proven himself to be “cured” of his dilusions of an evil mirror Tim is out in the world, and Kaylie is there to meet him. They set out to fulfill a childhood promise they both made, what that is, and how they intend to do it you’ll just have to see for yourself.

What We Think: Well let’s start off by saying Oculus “borrows” liberally from horror classics like Poltergeist, and The Amityville Horror (the original not the Ryan Reynolds remake). What it does do well is give us a nice package for all it’s somethings borrowed. There’s not cheap scare, and a very methodical buildup to the crescendo. Flanagan tries to keep the focus on our two siblings while shifting between time periods at the drop of a hat. The latter point was a concern as I saw myself often playing catch up. There’s also a few scenes that had to audience gasping, and that’s the sign of effective build up, and great set pieces.
Our Grade: B-, While not reinventing the wheel in any way Oculus doesn’t try to be something else. It’s just an interesting story told in a fantastic uni-linear time frame. Newcomer (for me anyway) Thwaites does a great job of selling the material. It was also good to see Katee Sackoff (Battlestar Gattalica) back in action. But for us Karen Gillan who will be in this summers Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. Build up tension in all it’s silver screen glory here, it’s only knock is a startling lack of original composition.

 

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