Film Review: Oculus


Mike Flanagan’s Oculus is a decent horror film. Despite its fair share of genre clichés, the film offers a nervy final third.

Recently released from an institution because of a childhood incident, Tim reunites with his older sister Kaylie. She is convinced that the incident was caused by a supernatural mirror, and sets out to prove this to Tim…

Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan has constructed Oculus to run two narrative strands, past and present, concurrently. This is an astute move, as it helps to generate a sense of mystery. The audience are not given all the facts initially, which makes it interesting to watch the stories unfold. The blurring between reality and the imagined is potent in Oculus. As the film progresses, this becomes more integral to the plot.

Whilst the film is dominantly a supernatural horror, Oculus does rely on issues of the psyche to drive its protagonists. There is an element of uncertainty of what is perceived, and the two main characters are less and less reliable witnesses as the film reaches its conclusion. There are some good ideas in the film, even if some o these are not fully executed.

Some of the reveals in Oculus are predictable. The set up of the film is also riddled with a significant flaw, taking into account what Kaylie has found out about the power of the mirror. Nevertheless, special effects are good. Gore is apparent in some wince-inducing moments, but generally Oculus relies on the supernatural activity and atmosphere to generate fear. Performances by leads Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are are adequate. Some of the child acting is less believable.

Oculus is a very watchable horror movie. Whilst it is not genre-changing, the film becomes more entertaining as it progresses.

Oculus is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 20th October 2014.