• Rev Horror

Oculus

Dir. Mike Flanagan (2013)

Two siblings seek revenge against a haunted mirror that ruined their lives.


CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


I’ve made it absolutely no secret that I’m an enormous fan of Mike Flanagan, and for my money, he’s never made a bad film. Some are better than others, and Oculus is a shining example of a movie that is scary as all hell while containing some of the best mindfuckery ever filmed for a horror movie. Karen Gillan (Jumanji, Dr. Who, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Brenton Thwaites (Titans, The Giver) play a pair of siblings who have grown up with the specter of a haunted mirror that forces people within its sphere of influence to do unspeakable things, and now they will stop at nothing to end the mirror’s power over others. Unfortunately, breaking this mirror brings a helluva lot more than seven years of bad luck, and they find out the hard way that sometimes evil spirits want to fight back when you fuck with them.

Mirror is BIG mad.

Shifting back and forth between their childhood and present day, Oculus does a fantastic job of weaving a story that has decimated an entire generation of this family, causing their father to kill their mother and forcing the brother into a mental institution for killing his father in self-defense. By establishing the ground rules early on that the mirror makes things appear differently than they actually are, we are never entirely sure throughout the film’s entire runtime exactly what is real and what is just an illusion to bring these siblings to their endgame. We also stumbled across the theory that maybe all of the film is a delusion of the mentally ill brother, and that the entire mirror story is just a psychosis establishing itself inside his brain to carry out his own sick wishes, though I think Flanagan’s story works even better on a surface level.

Maybe don’t hide under the demon mirror?

The movie is filled with ghosts of the past and the present, with an old reality bleeding over into a current reality. What’s actually happening, and what does it mean for their plot to finally break the mirror? As the movie’s plot spirals out of control, we have a sinking suspicion that things aren’t going to turn out well for the star-crossed family, because the mirror has never been defeated before and it doesn’t look like it’s ready to start now. Interestingly enough, further credence is led to the belief that the mirror wins in the end because it’s found all throughout Flanagan’s work, from the hotel in Doctor Sleep to the basement of Hill House. Oculus itself is a mind-bending foray into madness, and it’s well-acted and well-shot throughout its entirety, delivering yet another amazing film to Flanagan’s filmography.

Who this movie is for: Psychological horror aficionados; Modern horror lovers; Flanagan fanboys

Bottom line: It’s so rare that mindfucks in movie are done well, because so many directors lose track of their own rules just to get to the next scare. Not so with Mike Flanagan, who in my opinion is at least in the top 3 horror directors working today. Oculus is a complete story from beginning to end, and there are tons of extra featurettes that you can seek out on the interwebs that add to the story and to the lore. Gillan and Thwaits are fantastic, allowing the emotion of these two doomed siblings to permeate every scene. The mirror is a more-than-capable villain, exuding a menacingly ominous aura in every shot in which its featured. Not only is this one a great addition to any Halloween lineup, it’s a fantastic movie in general and should get much more attention than it does.

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