00:00 April 27, 2014
By: David Vicari
[Courtesy of Relativity Media]

** out of ****

So, there's this centuries old evil mirror, and anyone who possesses it befalls a horrific fate. When Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) were children, they witnessed their father (Rory Cochrane) grow increasingly despondent then murder their mother (Katee Sackhoff), and it was all due to the mirror. However, Tim was institutionalized for killing his parents. Now grown up, Tim is released and Kaylie has possession of the mirror with plans to capture on video the true wickedness of the inanimate object. The mirror, though, has other plans, for it is a master of ghoulish Jedi mind tricks.

Mike Flanagan's film has a few unnerving moments, like a close up of a fingernail being pulled off, or when a characters takes a bite out of a light bulb as if it's an apple. There are a few creepy images, like zombie-like characters with glowing eyes, which gives me the impression that Flanagan's main inspiration here are the films of Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, City of the Living Dead), but clearly, Flanagan is a technically superior filmmaker. So, imagine a Fulci film done competently and you will probably get Oculus. This is not a great movie, however. The script is very talky and Flanagan seems to think that moody atmosphere means sleepy pacing.

Oculus (Latin for 'eye') writes itself into a corner, creating an all powerful evil entity that doesn't seem to have a weak spot. The heroes are frail, damaged people. Kaylie seems to just be asking for trouble with her idiotic plan; her idea to destroy the mirror seems equally dumb. Generally, it's a tried and true screenplay furmula to pit a powerful villain against underdog protagonists, but the set up here doesn't give the good guys a chance.

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