To say horror fans are divisive on movies would be an understatement, though sometimes we may disagree on what is considered good or crap I think it should be remembered and understood what matters is our shared enthusiasm for the genre. Howard Lovecraft put it best when said “Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”
I am writing this in defense of a horror film released in the past 4 years not given due credit and in my opinion unfairly condemned by fellow fans.
Oculus is strictly translated in Latin as “eye”, throughout literature mirrors have had a source of power to either see in the future or reveal an underlying world. In “Snow White” by the Brother’s Grimm the Evil Queen used her magic mirror to foretell a beauty that was grander than her own; Alice went through a mirror as an alternate portal into Wonderland; in Bram Stoker’s Dracula a mirror revealed Jonathan Harker’s true image; all the way back to the greek mythology Narcissus by Ovid (where the term narcissist derives from) who fell in love with his own image in a reflection from water.
The power and history of mirrors is exactly why I feel in the 2013 film Oculus the concept of a “haunted” mirror is phenomenal and draws strength in imagination of what the possibilities are for the movie’s antagonist.
In the film they never specifically say that the mirror is “haunted”more to the fact that it is a “home” to a paranormal entity, but as I have defended in the past the origin of the monster/villain can destroy the legacy created and the actions are what captures us in intrigue.
Oculus takes place on two timelines interspersed, with scenes jumping back and forth from past to present purposely designed to unsettle the audience creating the doubt of what they are seeing is real or an illusion.
The film begins with brother and sister: Kaylie and Tim attempting to escape from their home, they turn to see a gun then the scene cuts to Tim years later discussing the events we witnessed with his psychologist. It is portrayed that Tim is in a mental institute and had a major breakthrough, Tim and his psychiatrist discuss his rehabilitation, acceptance of guilt and how Tim will adjust to being reinstated into society.
Then we are introduced to Kaylie as an adult, she works for an auction house and has positioned herself to be steward for the sale of a large mirror with an impressive wooden frame known as the “Lasser Glass.”
As the movie plays on Kaylie and Tim are reaquainted after 11 years being separate, Tim is warned by his doctor not to be swayed by his sister who did not have the treatment he did, forcing her to deal with the the death of their parents in a completely different manner.
When Tim and Kaylie reconnect, Kaylie is excited to express to Tim that she found “it” intricately explaining the history behind the mirror, and not only will she expose the entity but destroy it in an act of revenge for what horrors it caused her family.
The movies alternates cuts from past to present with the adult versions discussing the events 11 years prior comparing their memories about what actually took place to them as children living the experience. Tim attempts to justify in reason to his sister the events in a logical perspective that he obtained with a decade of treatment, compared to Kaylie’s memory as a young girl convinced that a mirror harboring evil was responsible for the death of her parents and the destruction of her family.
What I loved most of this movie was that up until a certain point you were not sure exactly where the story was going to take you, for one the audience understands that it is a horror movie and under the impression that the mirror is haunted. Then again makes you question that truth with the device of a brother and sister quarrel, debating over what each’s memory served them.
You may question if the mirror has evil inside of it or is this just a delusion by a woman who witnessed a horrific event as a child dealing untreated over the years with a menacing idea that stewed into a grandeur of delusion.
Either way would have been an amazing plot but let’s just say the delivery of reveal does not disappoint and was crafted to make you think about the possibilities.
Oculus stars Katee Sackhoff from none other than Battlestar Galactica, Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Brenton Thwaites(Dead Men Tell No Tale) also Directed by the genius of Mike Flanagan who brought us the Netflix release Hush and Ouija: Origin of Evil (far superior to it’s predecessor). Flanagan is also stated to be directing the Netflix miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s book Gerald’s Game- if you are not familiar with this piece of King’s work do yourself a favor at the very least go over the synopsis, it is true King.
Oculus is a Blumhouse Production and as we all know Blumhouse does not disappoint (often) and I would even go as far to say is the modern day equivalent of New Line Cinema for horror.
This is an amazing film if appreciated for the subtext and underlying story structure displayed to make you question reality and what truth mirrors have, in my opinion it has one of the most surprising and disturbing endings in horror in a long time. It will have you thinking twice about when you look into a mirror, maybe the reflection you are seeing is not your own but a monster waiting to destroy your mind. I give this film 5 Claws.