After eleven years a young man, Tim Russell, Brenton Thwaites, locked up in a psychiatric ward for killing his parents is released to the custody of his sister, Kaylie Russell, Karen Gillan. Kaylie and Tim promised to never forget the horror that occurred and to destroy the thing that led to the destruction of their family.
Mike Flanagan’s “Oculus” takes its time in laying out just how the spirit in the mirror not only decimated the Russell family, but through the years (dating back to the first appearance of it in the 19th Century) cast a pall of horror on anyone who owned it.
The story is predictable yet, the cast does an excellent job in bringing to life the horror that lies within the tale. Karen Gillan’s portrayal of Kaylie laying out the premise for how things happen is strong and believable. Kaylie plans everything out to the last detail so that they can finally prevail. However, Tim believes that everything they experienced was in fact not real. Now she must convince him of what he already knows.
Aside from the adult cast, the children who portray the Young Kaylie, Annalee Basso, and Young Tim, Garret Ryan, bring a quality of innocence and ingenuity when they realize that their parents are both possessed and that the only way they can survive is to work with each other. Katee Sackhoff, Marie Russell, and Rory Cochrane, Alan Russell as the parents are both creepy and complex. They add a depth to the film, which would not be there otherwise.
What is lacking here is motive. Why does the mirror possess people? In addition, if the mirror was a part of Balmoral Estate (The home of the Royal family in England) were they effected by it and if not, why not? Given the worth of the mirror, how could the Russell family afford it, since their father was a computer engineer?
None of these questions are ever answered, yet the ending was sadly predictable. (And improbable given the fact that Kaylie recorded everything that occurred). With horror stories it is the element of the unknown, which captures audiences. “Oculus” suffers from a lack of creativity. We can see through the mirror to the other side long before the credits roll.