Scaring people is difficult to do in this jaded, genre savvy world today. Can psychological horror Oculus put the shiver’s up an audience’s spines?
Having been residing in a psychiatric hospital since he was 10 years old Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is finally released. But his hope to put the past behind him is shattered by his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan –Doctor Who‘s Amy Pond in a slightly distracting American accent), who wants to hold her brother to a promise he made 11 years ago. To destroy the mirror they believed as kids ruined the lives of their family.
The film has an effective narrative, constantly going between the modern-day events of Tim and Kaylie with flashbacks to the younger Tim and Kaylie (Garrett Ryan and Annalise Basso). The transitions between the past and the present were smoothly done. Both plotlines are engaging and are filled with tension. Although there is some blood (with a particular effective incident with a lightbulb) the film is more about the psychological scares, and just like the protagonists you will find your mind being messed with.
There is some great acting to be found in this film with Ryan and Basso especially strong and sympathetic as the younger Tim and Kaylie trying to work out what is happening to their family. You just want to tell their older selves to cut their losses and run away! The parents are also well-developed. Rory Cochrane plays the afflicted dad well and it’s good to see Katee Sackhoff as the mother play a different role from her usual Tough Girl routine and show range by playing someone more vulnerable.
Although it’s a good film with a strong premise the film fails to elevate itself into greatness. It’s creepy and atmospheric rather than all out scary. Some aspects of the film are also a bit predictable. While the characters try to set up precautions to stop themselves falling foul of the mirror’s powers, you do feel that they should have known better considering their previous experiences and just stay well away, although at least they have strong reasons to attempt what they do. There’s also something set up at the beginning which is so obviously going to go wrong that you feel there should be sign saying YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE PUT THAT THERE!
I perhaps had higher hopes considering I heard such positive things about it. An effective horror but it won’t leave you nervously looking at that large mirror in your house.
Rating 3/5 – better at building tension then in its final execution but strong acting makes it an effective chiller