In Oculus two siblings try to defeat the supernatural entity within a mirror that hung in their childhood home. Kaylie (Karen Gillan) the older sister has done extensive research on the history of the mirror’s past owners. It’s grizzly and full of strange, awful deaths. After her younger brother, Tim (Brenton Thwaites), is released from a mental institution, she secures overnight possession of the cursed mirror as it is sold in an auction. She hangs the mirror up where it was in their childhood home and sets up lots of equipment; cameras, computers, alarms and a guillotine-like blade that can destroy the mirror once they get enough proof.
Proof of what? Tim asks. After years of therapy he believes that the horrible events of their childhood surrounding the mirror were just domestic issues. But Kaylie knows better and as the night and the mirror’s power progresses, the siblings remember the awful events of their childhood and live a new nightmare courtesy of the mysterious lady in the mirror.
This movie is great at playing mind games with both the characters and viewer at the same time. How did the cameras move? When did those plants die? Is there really broken glass everywhere? Is that an apple or a light bulb they just bit into? It’s creepy, disturbing and can get under your skin perfectly. Sometimes it’s fun trying to guess what is real and what isn’t. If you’re like me, you won’t always be right and the surprises keep getting better.
The visual manifestation of the cursed mirror is worth noting. Usually it’s a lady, pale, dressed in white, watching in the shadows and always with mirror eyes. They reflect out in a blank, malevolent stare. As far as modern movie monsters go she’s no Freddie Krueger, but once you look into those mirror eyes you don’t forget it.
Oculus does not use cheap reflective mirror ideas that I half expected to pop up. No backwards messages on the wall or anything like that. Instead the mirror duality is shown in how the past pairs up with the present and how history repeats itself. As Kaylie and Tim are terrorized as they try to outsmart the mirror, their unhappy memories may help them, but the mirror may have a clearer and longer memory than they do.
Overall, Oculus is a great psychological thriller with an intriguing supernatural element. It’s a smart, thrilling ride that starts safe, with a few mild jump scares, and dives deep into creepy mind games. Oculus is definitely not a good choice for family movie night. But if you’re looking for a good scare to keep you on your toes and guessing until the end, Oculus is worth seeking out.
“Hello again! You must be hungry.”