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In theaters April 11, 2014

Oculus tells the story of Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and her brother Tim (Brenton Thwaites). Kaylie is trying to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murdering their father (Rory Cochrane) some eleven years earlier. She is out to prove that a supernatural mirror was the cause of everything that went wrong. Oculus is rated R for terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language.

Going into Oculus, there isn’t much mystery as to how the plot is going play out. The TV commercials and movie trailers lay everything out there. So the trick with any movie like this, is to win the audience over with a solid plot, an unexpected twist or two, and several armrest clinching moments. If these three things can be effectively achieved, the chances of success are greatly increased. The question is: does this movie do enough to be considered successful?

Let’s get into it, shall we? So we’ve got this supernatural mirror that is wreaking havoc in the lives of others, by causing them to murder and maim. The plot focuses on one family in particular, the Russells, which includes Katee Sackoff as mother. The interesting, albeit annoying part of the plot is that while taking place in the present, it also looks back eleven years ago to shed light on what transpired then. However, the nice thing about using this technique, is we’re able to see events from the past. On that point, Oculus is a movie with a prequel built-in. Early-in, the execution of flashbacks are well done, but once the movie has established itself, the flashbacks become increasingly annoying, due to frequency. It felt as if someone was switching between two shows at a feverish rate. Muddled and confusing is a good way to describe it.

Oculus is about 105 minutes run-time. That is a little long for horror movies, but isn’t a deal breaker. It’s unfortunate, in all that time, we never learn the mirror’s purpose or motivation for doing harm to others. There seemed to be a lot going on, but not much good information came out of it. There were a few tense moments, as well as uncomfortable scenes…for those on the squeamish side. The story didn’t seem polished, there were many things left unanswered, better yet, unfinished.

Ultimately, Oculus fell prey to attempting too much, to the point that it collapses on itself. The plot leaves too much to be desired. There were not enough “chilling moments,” to make it a movie that sticks with you until the end of the day. Save your money and wait for home video, because it won’t be long. If you were hoping for a nice fright night, I have a suspicion that Oculus will just deliver shattered dreams.


Oculus is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


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