Oculus gets top marks for tension. A claustrophic supernatural horror from writer and director Mike Flanagan, the film is a lesson in the importance of tight storytelling. Karen Gillan, of Dr Who fame, stars as Kaylie, a troubled but driven woman obsessed with proving that the mirror that hung in her childhood home was responsible for the psychosis of her father, Alan, and her mother, Marie.
Two timelines seamlessly interlink to form the story, as we follow Kaylie and her brother Tim as both children and adults. We witness the twisted events in the past that led up to Alan’s murder of his own wife, alongside Kaylie and Tim’s vain attempts in the present day to destroy the mirror that caused them so much pain. That two equally haunting stories are told together with such confidence, is what secures the success of Oculus. The acting is a little off at times, with Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan (the young Kaylie and Tim) definitely the stars of the show, and there is a little bit of frustration to be felt in the recklessness of adult Kaylie’s plan, which involves locking herself and her emotionally unstable brother in a house with the same piece of ghostly furniture that clearly drove her parents to furious insanity.
And yet, by the final act, the films proves itself worthy of praise, as it brings everything to a perfectly timed, blood-stained close, ending on a shocking note which ultimately strengthens the story’s power.
FINAL VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★