Movie Review: Oculus – Through the Looking Glass

Oculus Poster

Genre: Mystery/Horror

Director: Mike Flanagan

Running Time: 104 Minutes

I was not prepared. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for about a year and a half but kept putting it off, for no real reason. I got around to watching it today, upon recommendation from the bestie. I hate mirrors. I really really hate them. James forgot to mention that the mirror IS the movie! Granted, it was in the poster but I didn’t realise it was pivotal to the plot. I probably would have know all of this if I had watched the trailer, but I generally stay away from movie trailers and I rarely read reviews for movies that I plan to watch, solely to keep my opinion untainted by others’ opinions. So, yeah, unprepared.

The Plot

Tim (Brenton Thwaites – Adult; Garrett Ryan – Teen) and Kaylie (Karen Gillan – Adult; Annalise Basso – Teen) have experienced something no child should. They witnessed their mother’s murder by their father’s hand, which then leads to Tim killing his father to protect both himself and his sister. Tim is placed into a special facility for psychologically troubled youths, and is finally released at 21. That is not the whole story though. Kaylie remembers things a little differently to her brother. She remembers her mother’s insidious descent into madness and her father’s erratic behaviour. She remembers the house having unwelcome, haunting visitors and her parents reacting negatively to “the mirror”.

Kaylie takes it upon herself to prove that there is a supernatural force at work and that “the mirror” is the one to blame for their parents’ deaths. Tim is not on board with the idea but is slowly sucked into the plan,. He hopes to prove that “the mirror” is just another inanimate object, unable to wield power over living creatures. To prove that their parents’ action can be explained rationally, even if the truth is bitter to swallow.

Oculus Tim

Performances & Special Effects

Let me say that the adult and teenage counter-parts for Tim and Kaylie were superbly cast. This allowed for the seamless switch from the present to the past within the film’s narrative. Gillan gave a strong performance as the headstrong and self-assured older sister, while Thwaites’ portrayal as the doubting, soft-hearted younger brother was on point. This translated well to their younger co-stars, Bossa and Ryan. Their parents, Marie and Alan  (played by Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane, respectively), were equally fantastic. Marie’s seeping uncertainty and growing volatility was well orchestrated and performed, while Alan’s mounting irritability and ultimate withdrawal from the family was realistic and palpable.

The special effects were amazing. There were a number of subtle changes and occurrences, making the attention to detail paramount. The gore was not excessive, in my opinion. The mirror took on a personality and life of its own with nifty camera angles and effective lighting. I enjoyed the make-up and SFX on the spirits/ghosts that appear periodically throughout the film.


The Review

This was a fantastically enjoyable film, even for someone with an intense dislike of mirrors. What I like most was the fact that even though the plot is not particularly difficult to figure out, the ending leaves you uncertain of exactly how events unfolded. I wish I could say more but I do so hate spoilers. It’s a case of knowing the destination but really enjoying the journey.

I have nothing bad to say here. The film switches effortlessly between past and present; this, coupled with great performances and excellent visuals, make this an extremely worthwhile watch. The manner in which the two timelines are dealt with makes it seem like you’re getting two movies for the price of one. Kaylie is the strong, pro-active type, which is always nice to see in a female character.

Oculus Kaylie

This is the type of horror film that is suitable for group or individual viewing. I watched it with a friend but realised that it would be equally fun to watch for a movie night with several friends or in bed alone. It’s not the type of film that has a lingering affect on my psyche, like The Conjuring did, but I may take a wider berth around mirrors for a while. Especially lavishly ornate ones.

My rating: 4/5

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