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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Oculus: A Twisted Mirror Reflecting Paradoxical Realities

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Released 04-11-2014

Watched 05-13-2023

Reviewed 05-18-2023

"See the mirror hanging there? Face of silver, frame of black. Oculus of glass, I stare. I can feel you staring back. I hear your voice; believe your lies. A window, portal, a darkened door. Should you claim my staring eyes, my soul, you hold forever more."

"Oculus," directed by Mike Flanagan, attempts to take us on a haunting journey through time and perception, blending reality with illusion in a macabre dance that often leaves us questioning the true nature of what we are witnessing. Yet, in its quest to interweave the past and the present with a reality-bending premise, it occasionally stumbles, causing a touch of disorientation rather than sustaining suspense.

The film benefits from a strong central cast. Karen Gillan, as Kaylie, gives a convincing performance, masterfully portraying a young woman consumed by a decade-old trauma and her desperate struggle to understand the root of it all: an antique mirror. Brenton Thwaites, as Tim, matches Gillan's intensity and effectively showcases a man's struggle between the need to forget and the pull to remember.

However, the narrative structure of "Oculus" is where the movie both shines and falters. The idea of interspersing scenes from the past and present to generate suspense and unease is ambitious and unique. The disorientation caused by this method could very well be a deliberate choice to mirror the character's own struggle to differentiate between reality and the mirror's sinister illusions. However, this approach also risks the clarity and coherence of the plot, occasionally making it difficult to follow. This confusion, though intriguing initially, can lead to frustration, distancing the audience from the story rather than drawing them in deeper.

The Lasser Glass, the supernatural mirror at the heart of the story, is a compelling horror icon. It does an excellent job of fostering an atmosphere of dread and unease. Yet, it's never truly explained or explored to its fullest potential, which seems like a missed opportunity in a film so centered around its malevolent influence.

The visual effects and cinematography are well-executed and contribute effectively to the movie's overall eerie atmosphere. The score is chilling and complements the narrative well, enhancing the unsettling nature of the story.

In conclusion, "Oculus" is a film with grand ambitions and a unique take on horror storytelling. It boasts strong performances and a genuinely creepy premise but suffers from a sometimes convoluted narrative structure that may leave some viewers lost in its mirrored realities. It's a movie worth watching for its attempt to break from traditional horror storytelling, but one should be prepared to engage with its complexity and occasional narrative disarray.


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