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A horror film that tells a story

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Oculus (movie)


Oculus: R” (1 Hour, 45 Min)

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Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, Katee Sackhoff

Directed by: Mike Flanagan

Ten years ago a horrifying family incident left two young children orphans, Kaylie and Tim Russell (Karen Gill and Brenton Thwaites). According to the way the story was believed to have happened, their father Alan (Cochrane) murdered their mother, Marie (Sackhoff) and was subsequently killed by Tim when Alan then attempted to murder Kaylie as well. Due to his age, the nature of the crime, as well as the resulting trauma Tim suffered, he was committed to a psychiatric institute for a decade, until his psychologist determined that he was well enough to be released. However, his sister has always believed that the true culprit was a haunted antique mirror that their father had owned. Now Tim is (apparently) completely rehabilitated and in his 20s, he is ready to move on but Kaylie, who is now an acquisition agent for an auction house, has finally tracked down the mirror, and is determined to prove that the haunted mirror was responsible for destroying their family.

So, when her brother is released, Kaylie is there to greet him, and manages to convince him to join her at their old homestead in order to “prove” that it is the mirror the caused their parent’s death, and not that their father was a psycho. Once at the house Kaylie lays out her plan on how she intends to prove that it is the mirror that killed their mother, not their father. Plus she goes into a longish explanation of throughout the history of the mirror numerous people were killed under mysterious and horrific circumstances. She also outlines an elaborate scheme of how she has set up electronic surveillance, protections, and traps to “catch” the mirror in the act of its killing methodology (almost too convoluted to follow).

The film continues to unfold by cutting back and forth between the young kids living out the horror they experienced, and the older children currently attempting to unravel the mystery of what happened. While we realize that this storytelling device was something of a stumbling block to fans of what has come to be accepted as “horror” to modern-day fans of the genre, to us, this represented something of a novel and intellectual approach (much of what currently passes as “horror” falls between splatter-punk slasher flicks and torture porn, and it simply tediously boring to us. This film was not that at all, but inventively appealing and stylishly engaging. (One viewer commented that only three people died, and the flashbacks kept interrupting the flow of story. Again, we couldn’t disagree more.) We feel that the filmmaker’s approach to the storytelling enhanced the drama of the film (which nevertheless wound up ending precisely the way these types of stories always tend to end by necessity). Still, the method by which it arrived at its forgone conclusion, made it well worth watching. Not your typical horror flick, but then again, (and as stated) that’s what made it watchable in the first place.


Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, hismovie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.


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