"Katee Sackhoff is one of the few believable mothers that feature in horror films and her descent into insanity is disturbing"
No not the virtual reality headset, Oculus is this year’s horror film, which lends itself the ‘meta’ hashtag by showing you the source of the scares in the first five minutes. It seems that by neutralising any attempt at fear it tries to achieve something deeper, a strong effort but ultimately unsuccessful. Seemingly a sci-fi nerds dream with starring roles from Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff and Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan, this well-meaning effort falls down at the typical clichéd pitfalls and ends up falling short of its intentions.
Eleven years previously, strong willed Kaylie (Annalise Basso) and Tim (Garrett Ryan) watched as their father Alan (Rory Cochrane) and mother Marie (Katee Sackhoff) slowly go insane. The horror of the tragedy resurfaces when Kaylie greets Tim after he leaves the mental institution, which has been his home for many years since the event that scarred them both. Now both adults Tim has let the memory become rationalised in his head as a simple homicide, whereas stubborn (and slightly psychopathic) Kaylie has not forgotten one detail.
We learn that an antique mirror that hung in their family home may be the source of all the heartbreak in their life. Tim is sceptical, both him and the audience are on the outside looking in at Kaylie’s fears and paranoia and it’s seen as just that: mental illness, not paranormal activity. She has found the mirror after all these years and she intends to destroy it.
As the film progresses, the lines between realities blur. Writer and Director Mike Flanagan begins the film in a pretty standard way but as Kaylie and Tim begin to dig further back into their pasts, things begin to get weird. The child actors shine as present becomes past, past becomes present and the audience starts to feel dizzy.
There are strong performances all round, Katee Sackhoff is one of the few believable mothers that feature in horror films and her descent into insanity is disturbing. Kaylie’s attempt to destroy the mirror starts of well meaning, intelligent, calculated and rational - for someone who believes a mirror is going to murder them all. However, as the story progresses the characters once promising personalities diminish to unsuccessful scares and that god awful apple-lightbulb bit which was touted constantly on the trailers.
Oculus disappointed me, what started out as a clear horror flick with roots in reality, it gives way to typical clichés and it doesn’t even do them well.