Who would have thought a horror movie about a mirror would turn out to be a unique narrative with surprising twists and turns? Not someone who’s seen the 2008 flop, Mirrors, let me tell you. Color me pleasantly surprised by Oculus, the story of a demonic mirror with the ability to bend reality.
Though the movie starts off slowly, it does a great job introducing the characters, who feel authentic and understandable for all their quirks. Eleven years after a tragedy that left their mother mutilated and murdered, brother and sister Tim and Kaylie reunite in their old home. Tim has spent this time incarcerated, while Kaylie has become an obsessive-compulsive supernatural expert intent on destroying the old mirror that once resided in their father’s office.
The narratives of what happened to the siblings as children and what is happening to them now as adults run parallel… at first. Usually I’ve got this kind of narrative pinned down from the start: we’ll see the two stories play back and forth, both simultaneously reaching their climaxes (I’m talking about the stories, guys), and emphasizing the outcome of the adult scenario as a means of overcoming what they failed to accomplish the first time around.
What we get, instead, is an intricate, singular story in which the two narratives twist into one another. Time comes undone. The actions of the present somehow transform into and affect the actions of the past, and vice versa. Somehow, Tim and Kaylie seem to be simultaneously children and adults.
This works to great effect in a story wherein the characters go insane around a possessed mirror, experiencing delusions that make it impossible to tell what is real. This unique type of narrative takes the viewer along for the ride, creating the same unsettling loss of reality for the audience. It’s tricky to pull off because eventually that audience might stop caring about what’s happening, if they can’t tell what’s real. Oculus, however, manages to retain a great deal of suspense; in fact, not knowing what’s real ends up being an important plot point that leads to a particularly horrific finale.
Aside from that, the movie is saturated with a creeping dread and some truly eerie visuals that will keep you as far away from mirrors as the last time you watched Candyman. If you want to see a unique, surreal psychological horror flick, Oculus should be at the top of your list.
Plot / Originality: 10 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Acting: 9 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Visuals: 8 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Music: 6 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Script: 8 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Scare Factor: 7 out of 10 haunted mirrors
Overall: 8 out of 10 haunted mirrors