Prior to its DVD release next Monday, Nathan Browne gives us his verdict on Oculus.
Oculus revolves around Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) who as children witnessed their father, Alan Russell (Rory Cochrane), kill their mother, Marie Russell (Katee Sackhoff). Tim was forced to kill their dad in self defence. They believe they witnessed a supernatural occurrence, that their dad had been under the influence of a demonically possessed antique mirror when he killed their mother. They told the authorities this, but Tim was still sent to a mental institute and grew up believing they had created the whole supernatural story in their heads. Eleven years later, after Tim is released from the mental institute, his sister Kaylie is determined to prove their story is true.
Oculus plays out in both the present and in flashback, so we gradually find out how the events transpired in the past, and see how they are now being recreated in the present. This can be somewhat confusing as occasionally the story cuts back and forth many times rapidly, but it's refreshing to find a movie that tries to do something different, and, although not perfect, actually succeeds on some level.
Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane are excellent as Kaylie and Tim’s parents in the flashback segments. Their marriage is gradually torn apart whilst their children look on helpless. Karen Gillan delivers a very solid performance, but Brenton Thwaites is a little weak and not really male lead material. Alongside Gillan his acting also feels quite wooden. This is why I think that the flashback parts of the movie are the strongest segments of the film, also there is a lot more tension during those scenes.
The main flaw with the movie is it's just not scary. Not at all. It's billed as a horror, but it's just not - it's a psychological thriller and would've done better to have marketed itself that way. Any chance of any scares are given away too far in advance. That being said, Oculus is still an above average movie, and if you like a good psychological thriller then you'll enjoy this.