Oculus  (2013)    61/100

Rating :   61/100                                                                     104 Min        PG

Horror film featuring the supposed shenanigans of an EVIL MIRROR THAT CAN CONTROL MINDS, in this case the minds of Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) the surviving members of the Russell family, their parents having been brutalised in front of them when they were kids. Now in their early twenties, Tim is released from psychiatric care (where he has been ever since mirrorgate), convinced that his mind used the irrational to rationalised horrible instances of domestic violence – his sister’s first response to him being released is to cajole him into turning up at their old home again to immediately confront the mirror and try to tease out the evil within so she can record it and prove their parents weren’t completely mental. This will severely test the effectiveness of Tim’s therapy sessions, as well as his love for his older sister, who has effectively toughed it out by herself through the foster care system, intent on a danger fraught reckoning with the old heirloom of Balmoral castle (a nod, no doubt, to Gillan being Scottish but also an opportunity missed with no mention or link to any of the Royal Family that stayed there).

Gillan sports an understated and entirely convincing American accent and is herself the strongest element in the film, with Thwaites having the difficult, hackneyed and irritating role of conveying the ‘I don’t believe any of this’ trope across to the audience. Throughout the entire movie we have a dual narrative – what’s happening with the two main characters in the present, spliced with showing us what happened to them and their parents when they were kids and here the biggest difficulty arises, as one not only detracts from the other but they both eventually become deliberately intertwined, which is a pretty ambitious strategy and, well, the film doesn’t really pull it off. There are lots of silly moments, like Kaylie earnestly saying ‘OK, from now on we’ll stick together’ and then hotfooting it right out the door and leaving her brother to stare into space in growing stupefaction (he does this a lot). The enemy they are ostensibly up against seems too powerful as well, with the pair unable to tell what is real and what isn’t, especially when Kaylie has prepared the scenario already armed with this knowledge.

Despite never really hooking the audience it does have its moments, and it’s still better than the majority of horror films churned out nowadays because it at least attempts to have a story, even if that story does, at times, become a convoluted mess.

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