Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Traumatized siblings reunite to capture on camera the supernatural happenings from a haunted mirror.
Tim (Thwaites) was shut away in a mental institution for his teenage years while his older sister Kaylie (Gillan) was left to comprehend the evils they saw at home. Years later Kaylie tracked down the mirror and conjured a plan to destroy it. She wanted proof on video that it was the mirror that possessed her parents and made her father kill their mother. With her brother newly released from the institution, they meet at their childhood home with the mirror and wait for it to begin its terror.
The mirror has been responsible for taking many lives over the past four centuries. Creepy specters with glowing eyes watch passively at moments during Kaylie and Tim’s experiment. Kaylie has set up cameras and plants in every room. As the mirror’s margin of influence expands it kills the plants, revealing to Kaylie how powerful it’s getting. Oculus uses the mirror as a psychological factor to get inside the minds of these siblings. It builds suspense as viewers wonder what is real and what is imaginary.
Another suspenseful factor is the switch between the past and present. The siblings discuss different events of what happened as kids when they first moved the mirror into the house. What Oculus shows of their past is haunting, with a father who seems out of his mind and a mother convinced that he is having an affair. With two kids caught in the middle, and who seem to have no neighborhood friends, they’re in the house a lot so they witness the slow undoing of their parents’ minds.
There are plenty of enough terrifying scenes to make Oculus a little scary but it might be Kaylie’s obsession over the mirror that takes away a bit of the movie for me. Since she was left on her own after her parents died, and her brother was sent to a mental institution, Kaylie tells her brother what it was like to be looked at funny while other kids called her dad a murderer. She says she always knew it was the mirror that made him a victim, so she fixates on proving to the world that he wasn’t a criminal. Instead of letting the mirror go and trying to move on, she insists on disturbing it which can only lead to more horrifying things to occur.
If you’re looking for a scare, Oculus will do the job. As always with scary movies, it’s best to watch it at night with the lights off!