The Horror Honeys: Mirror, Mirror On the Wall...

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall...

A Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne

Oculus (2014)

I missed Oculus when it was in theaters, but heard so much positive feedback. I was thrilled when I could finally watch it on VOD. Unfortunately, I’m wishing I could get $2.99 of my $5.99 back.

21-year-old Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) is being released from a mental facility, where he has been rehabilitating since the horrific deaths of his parents 10 years prior. His older sister, Kaylie (Karen Gillan), who has had no treatment for the trauma, picks him up and immediately begins to remind him of the past. She tells him she has found “it” and they need to make good on their promise to destroy it. The “it” is an antique mirror Kaylie knows to be responsible for the deaths of their parents.

Kaylie takes Tim back to their childhood home where she has set up an elaborate plan using cameras, lights, alarms, plants, and a live dog to draw out the evil and destroy it. 

I definitely give this an A for effort and originality. Compared to most of the crap being shat out these days, Oculus is a breath of fresh air. It’s modern, but has a bit of a gothic feel to it. The makeup and lighting, which is dreary, adds to the dark atmosphere. I absolutely appreciate that director Mike Flanagan did not rely solely on jump scares, but built a decent amount of sadness and tension, particularly with the flashbacks.

Speaking of the flashbacks…

Oculus spends a great deal of time alternating between the past and the present. It’s relatively smooth transitioning for the majority of it, but as the pace quickens and we near the end, the two realities become so intertwined that I wasn’t entirely sure what the hell was going on. The mirror is so tricksy, it even screws up what’s real in the here and now. Total chaos.

Now let’s talk about that damn mirror. There was so little narrative on the actual villain, other than the soft research done by Kaylie. We know the people who own this particular mirror die horrible deaths, but why? Where did it come from? What makes it evil? We also learn that it seems to collect the souls of the people it kills, but is there a particular presence that runs the show? Who the fuck is in charge here?! I felt like I was dropped in the sequel for a movie that was never made.

I’ve never seen an episode of Dr. Who or Battlestar Galactica so I’m not a Katee Sackhoff (Marie Russell) or Karen Gillan fangirl. Sackhoff did a great job of transforming from a happy mom into a crazy, plate eating shell of her former self, but Gillan gave a flat performance for someone so obsessed. The real stars of the film were the two kids who play young Kaylie and Tim (Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan). They were totally believable and played off each other like true pros.

I straddle the line on this one. I didn’t hate Oculus, but it did nothing to blow me away either. Is it wrong that I actually think we need a prequel? It probably is.

Supernatural Honey verdict: 2.5 years of bad luck out of 5