June 13, 2014

Movie: Oculus (2013)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies, Movies — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:05 pm

imagesThis is an interesting movie. The trailers made it look like a run-of-the-mill type horror and I went in there just with the expectation of just another blood freezer with moments of silence where someone wanders around the house alone in the dark punctuated by sudden screeches, sudden appearance of things close up to the camera with the intent of scaring the audience into feeling good about paying good money to be scared senseless. Instead, what I got was a very intelligently and very differently narrated story. It is a horror movie, it is true, and it has the creep factor expected, also true but otherwise, you come back with having watched a well-crafted and well narrated storyline as a bonus.

Now, on to the story. Tim Russell gets released from a lunatic asylum. He has a sister called Kaylie who was also a child when Tim went to the asylum (having killed someone with the gun and having been declared insane). His grown up sister Kaylie comes to receive him and hijacks an antique mirror called the Lassar Glass that came for sale in an auction house that she works in. We wonder why. The mirror incidentally is in mint condition – except for a small crack at the lower end.

Our puzzlement increases when we find that she has set up an elaborate contraptions around it, with a lot of cameras, gun, recording devices etc. We slowly are told why.

Time for some explanations and some flashback. As children, Tim and Kaylie moved into a new house with their father Alan and mother Marie. It is an interesting aside that the mother is played by Katee Sackhoff of the Battlestar Galactica fame. ).  Marie is surprised that Alan bought a large mirror for his office (the self same Lassar Glass, without the crack) as this is so out of character for him.

Pressure is mounting on Katie, in the current time, to explain why the mirror was removed for “repairs”. She dodges the question and buys some time for now.

Kaylie meets Tim and asks if he is willing to keep the promise to her made in younger days – and reminds him that he promised her that, when he got out of the loonie bin, he will help her destroy the mirror that ruined their lives. Then takes him to the house to show where she has stored the mirror with such elaborate precautions. Tim is skeptical and says that it was their dad who ruined their lives and the mirror had nothing to do with it.


There is a creepy scene where Kaylie meets the mirror in the auction warehouse (before she moves it to a secluded location) and tells “it” that she is going to destroy the mirror. She notices that the objects behind her do weird things (some covered statues move in the mirror but not in real life, sometimes the weirdness spreads to the real world where the statues move). Nicely done, was my thought. But she is fully focused on carrying out the destruction and so moves it “for repair” to her secret place – the very same house that they had occupied when she was a kid.

Past and present interweave beautifully. Slowly we learn that the mother was killed by their dad and Tim then kills his father and is declared insane.

Kaylie records the whole episode as evidence. She first tells of her research, where she finds that everyone who has owned the mirror in the past has died violently. We begin to see that the mirror plays with the mind. Katie takes every precaution to survive. Knowing that all previous victims dies malnourished, she has a timer to remind her to eat and drink, hour on the hour.

Kaylie also knows that the plant feeds off the life force and so keeps plants and a dog to record how the mirror slowly kills them. Tim has had enough and releases the dog over Katie’s protests.

We see Alan slowly falling under the spell of the mirror and even having a woman from the mirror in his room. Marie grows jealous and puzzled.

The siblings slowly descend into the trap of the mirror, seeing broken glasses, seeing past victims etc. Katie had one last defence against the mirror. She has set up an axe to automatically descend and destroy the mirror unless she reset a timer every minute. She once almost gets killed standing in the path of the axe but is saved by the (yet another) alarm ringing, reminding her to reset the timer. Fascinating storytelling!


Marie grows demented and the father cannot even call the police as the phone just whisper’s like the  mirror and takes him too in its spell. He locks her up in a chain. He goes berserk and the children escape with their lives. Alan comes up and sees Marie eating plates, breaking her teeth. He releases her and she runs after the children on all fours, like an animal.

Finally, the present catches up and what they do to the mirror is the end of this fascinating story.


Very nicely written, very intelligent, very credible after you swallow the premise of a mind controlling, all powerful mirror.


They way they have blended illusion and reality and also past and present – in one case the past and present merging as they watch their adult selves play out the past with their ghost parents – all of it is very new to films (At least the versions I have seen) and totally absorbing.

A thriller with nail biting suspense and a fascinating depiction of people’s slow descent into madness.



I will give it a 8/10


–        – Krishna







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