2013, abuse, antique, assylum, brother, child abuse, childhood trauma, death, demon, Gore, horror film, institution, Karen Gillan, Katie Sachoff, mirror, Murder, Occulus, parents, perception, Posession, siblings, sister, spouse abuse, supernatural, trap, Video Tape, Violence
I’m never going to be excessivelying critical of a movie that stars Karen Gillan and Katie Sachoff. Sci-Fi is the other great love of my life and these two women are great actresses. Karen Gillan plays to type as the feisty, bossy and headstrong older sister. Katee Sachoff plays an unusually subdued and domesticated character as the vulnerable and abused mother. Annalise Basso as the young Kayleigh is also excellent.
There is some damn good acting and characterisarion in this movie. But the whole endeavour is definitely a showcase Karen and with the exception of her younger self, the other characters are dull and flat. The younger brother, ostensibly the protagonist of the film, is totally overshadowed. He may as well be a silent character as he is simply swept along, offering little more than a token resistance to his sister’s plans.
And so to the plot. Little Bro was incarcerated in a mental institution for his adolescent years having shot his abusive father after watching him murder their mother. During this time he has come to terms with his actions, rationalising his delusional beliefs about supernatural forces in their home and accepting the abusive behaviour of his father for what it was.
Along comes big sis on the day of his release. She has just gained access (by somewhat dubious means) to a mirror that graced the walls of their home shortly before the deaths of their parents. She believes that this mirror possesses malevolent supernatural powers and came to possess their parents, driving them both insane and leading to their deaths. She sets out to convince her brother that his therapy has twisted his mind and created false memories to block out the truth of what really happened. She also wants him to keep his childhood promise and destroy the mirror.
This leads to the really ghastly and enjoyable vignette where Karen/Kayleigh expounds upon the grizzly history of the mirror and her plan to destroy it – once she has proof of its supernatural abilities.
I enjoyed Oculus but there were some disappointing clichés and the mystery surrounding the origins of the mirror strongly suggests the creators are gunning for a sequel. But sadly, unless you manage to pull an Insidious out of the bag your sequel is unlikely to achieve the budget or standard of the original. So what you have is a minor cash cow, being milked for every penny with the contractual cameo of the original star plastered across the promo to hook in the punters. I’d hate to see that happen here as this is a classy, if sometimes lazy, little horror.
The ending to Oculus was predictable and flat, leaving us with the dullest clothes prop of a character to follow blindly into a sequel.
Would I like a sequel? Yes, sure. But I’m likely on a hiding to nothing. There is a lot of scope here for a good sequel. A strong premise, plenty of mystery and some unanswered questions. In the right hands Oculus has at least one more good movie in it – though a prequel, rather than a sequel would be far more interesting. It’s a good premise and at the moment it has followed the “less is more” formula to good effect. But a sequel would require answers and enough originality from the writers to avoid the obvious clichés.