I hadn’t really heard much about Oculus — somehow it flew under my radar when it came out — but I recently watched it and was pleasantly surprised. The movie focuses on brother and sister Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan), who survived some terrifying events when they were children. Their parents ended up dead and Tim was accused of murder and spent ten years in an institution. As the movie begins, he has just been released, convinced that he has been cured and that everything that happened to him when he was young has a perfectly logical explanation. However, Kaylie is not of the same mind, and is convinced that the problems all began with an antique mirror — one that she has managed to find. Kaylie is intent upon expunging the evil that lives within the mirror and she brings Tim along for the ride.
Mirrors and doorways are always fascinating to me. There is a liminality — a neither here nor there — the potential for something just on the other side that is unexpected. The word “oculus” typically refers to a round opening, and the mirror in this movie is just that — an opening to something or somewhere else. There seems to be a presence that lives in the mirror, which can take hold of the minds of those close to it, the radius of power spreading as it sucks energy from those near. It changes people. It also messes with their mind. Often Kaylie or Tim is convinced that one thing is happening, when in reality something entirely different is going on. Or, they think they are in one place when in reality they are somewhere else. The mirror distorts their perception enough that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to tell what is real and what is fantasy. Unfortunately, many of these deceptions are dangerous, and it doesn’t take long for the situation in the house to deteriorate.
Interspersed with the current attempts by the siblings to rid the mirror of its power are flashbacks to what happened years ago when they were young. Their parents are played by Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff, and slowly we begin to see how the mirror corrupted their minds, caused their deaths, and destroyed the family. There are a lot of scary and disturbing situations in these parts of the film, which help lend to the seriousness of the current task that Kaylie has taken on.
This movie kept me guessing and made me jump quite a bit! If you like movies about haunted houses or possession, then you will probably enjoy Oculus.