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Oculus DVD review

Karen Gillan impresses in this effective horror.

Newly released from protective custody, Tim only wants to move on with his life. Yet his sister Kaylie is still haunted by that fateful night when her parents were killed. She believes their deaths were caused by a malevolent supernatural force that was unleashed through an antique mirror in their childhood home. Kaylie is determined to track down the mirror to prove Tim’s innocence. Soon she discovers previous owners have fallen foul of this mysterious entity, and now Kaylie and Tim are to find their nightmares have only just started.

In a world of thousands of found-footage horror movies, a film about a haunted mirror certainly piqued our interest. Oculus blends the present day with scenes from the parent’s death 11 years prior, managing to do this with real intrigue and professionalism. It almost comes across as a drama for large parts of the movie. It builds that family connection and we get right into the heart of the issue and also the mentality of the siblings.

There is a deeper meaning for Kaylie and the movie conveys that very well. We would have been happy to watch an entire film just about the relationship between Kaylie and Tim as it is so well written in Oculus. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites really make the film work between themselves – either separate or together they convey enough emotion that kept us hooked. It’s a real master-class of horror acting.

Being a horror film, there has to be scares, but one thing we noticed is that it doesn’t go for the obvious jump scares that so many other scary movies do (and mostly don’t do very well). Here, it’s calculating and rather terrifying in its intensity. The haunting images flash or float across the mirror, giving the thoughts of “did we really just see that? Or was it our mind playing tricks?”. It’s more the psychology of being uneasy about the whole proceeding that makes this a disturbing horror film.

The one downside to the movie is that it doesn’t know how to finish. It seems to collapse inside itself rather than figure out a resonant ending that works in the concept of the movie. It’s a huge disappointment to see such great work flop so quickly.

Oculus hits all the marks for a damn fine psychological horror. Weak ending aside, this is a horror movie that knows how to build emotion and tension followed by quick scary releases.

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