This is my first experience with Mike Flanagan and I must say that I enjoyed the way he chose to narrate the story of Oculus. Oculus (the feature film) is inspired by one of his earlier works, a short film – Oculus : Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan. It is identical to Oculus in terms of the overall plot but is different in some aspects.
Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) is under psychiatric care. He turns 21 today and is finally being released from care. Why was he institutionalized in the first place? For killing his father. But that is not what his sister – Kaylie (Karen Gillian) thinks. In fact that is not what Tim used to think either but the time with his shrink seems to have bought about a sea change in him.
Tim and Kaylie used to believe that it was a spirit at their parent’s place that caused their parent’s death. A spirit that resides in an antique mirror that Alan Russell (Rory Cochrane) gets home because his wife Marie (Katee Sackhoff) wants their new house to have some antique stuff. Of course, what they don’t know about is the sinister history that the mirror carries.
Let me at this stage say that Oculus is not a scary movie. It may have been made with an intent of being scary and does achieve that in parts. But at the end of the day, it would qualify to be a thriller and not a horror flick. Eerie looking spirits with glazed eyes popping out of the mirror every now and then do not just a horror film make. So if Flanagan will persist on classifying Oculus as HORROR then it isn’t a success.
However, Flanagan’s treatment of the story is actually quite superb. He divides the story into 2 distinct periods. The first period is the actual sequence of events when Tim, as a child, kills his father. The second is with Kaylie who is now 25 and is hell bent on killing the spirit in the mirror and wants her brother’s help in doing so.
Both periods run in parallel within the movie. In fact they are so intertwined to the extent that as the movie picks pace (which takes time), you will see the younger versions of the protagonists and the older versions in the same shot in an attempt to create / recreate what in in their minds. I may not be able to explain it as well in words but I can say that it looks and feels brilliant – and quite eerie at times.
In all other departments, Oculus is not too great. Music which is an integral part of a horror flick is not used best to create an impact. The spirits are not something we haven’t seen before. The performances from the cast are average / barely above average except for Katee Sackhoff who is unbelievably eerie when she is fully possessed. Don’t expect much though. 6 on 10 and worth watching on the screen.
Watch the trailer on http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2517019161/?ref_=tt_ov_vi