“Oculus” is one of those rare supernatural horror films that take a little time to set in. If you don’t give it some reflection (believe it or not, pun unintentional) after your initial viewing, you might walk away disappointed or shrugging it off. It’s the type of film that demands you watch it multiple times to take it all in and fully enjoy all its chills and excitements.
As a child, Tim (Brenton Thwaites) was convicted of the murders of his parents (Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff). Upon his release from a mental institution, his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) takes them to their childhood home to put an end to what she believes destroyed their childhoods and family. Kaylie is bent on finding a way to destroy the Lasser Glass, which is an antique mirror with a horrific history of death and violence.
Although we do get some jump scares, “Oculus” doesn’t just rely on those types of cheap thrills. There are plenty of slow-burning moments that will have you tensing up and retracting in nervous anticipation. As a longtime lover of horror films, I found myself embarrassed at how frightened I was of certain scenes.
All the actors in “Oculus” give their best with convincing performances. Katee Sackhoff goes against typecast playing a damaged and sensitive wife and mother versus the rough-and-tumble roles she became famous for. Karen Gillan sheds her English accent to confront the demons of her past and put an end to the curse that has followed her throughout her life.
“Oculus” is rated R for terror, violence, some disturbing images, and brief language. Overall, there’s a good mix of visual gore for those looking for that sort of thing. At the same time, what you don’t see is just as frightening. I did enjoy the fact that the filmmakers didn’t feel it necessary to bombard audiences with needless nudity or sex scenes. It’s just good old fashioned horror fun.
With “Paranormal Activity” producer Jason Blum involved, you can only imagine he somehow fits in at least one “found footage”-type gimmick into the movie. It wouldn’t be a Blumhouse Production if he didn’t. One of the characters uses their cell phone to see spirits they can’t with their naked eye.
The DVD version of “Oculus” comes with only one special feature. A featurette entitled “Inside the Mirror: Creating ‘Oculus’” takes viewers behind the scenes of the movie.
Although it isn’t the only mirror-related film ever created, “Oculus” does feel unique in its own way. It fits nicely into a sub-genre that includes “Mirrors,” “Amityville: A New Generation,” “Poltergeist III,” “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary,” and the likes. However, it more than holds its own and rises above with a somewhat original take on the subject.
“Oculus” is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.
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