‘Oculus’: only worth a roll of the eyes
Image courtesy of Relativity Media
**SPOILER ALERT** The following may contain spoilers.
The newest horror flick from the producer of “Paranormal Activity” does little to distinguish itself from others of its genre. There’s a possessed mirror and it kills people. The lights flicker and the phones are useless. Cue the eerie and dramatic music, and we have nothing special.
Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) were children when their father bought the mirror to furnish his new office in their new house. After Tim is released from a mental facility at age 21 and Kaylie finds the mirror in an auction, they reunite to face their demons. But nothing happens and no one bleeds until the second hour of the movie.
Typical of any haunting, the dog barks nonstop and the houseplants die. Normally these tropes of the genre stay in the background, but “Oculus” brings attention to them. Part of Kaylie’s plan to prove the ghost’s existence — and her brother’s innocence in the deaths of their parents — is to use them as documented evidence. She puts potted plants in every room and places a caged boxer terrier named Dog in front of the mirror to feed the ghost. Not trying to hide what we’re all expecting was a refreshing move. But after the first dozen times someone pointed out dead plants, it felt more like getting beaten over the head with a ficus.
The mirror and the woman possessing it are the most interesting characters, though they are left so unexplained we’ll probably have a sub-par prequel provide some answers in a year or so. The woman doesn’t fully appear until an hour and a half in, and she’s visually only good for the cheap jumps that come from appearing just as someone turns around. But that’s okay; it’s just a part of her game. Rather than kill Tim and Kaylie right away — something she’s more than capable of — she forces them to walk alongside their younger selves as they relive their childhood trauma.
In the end, “Oculus” was an obvious setup for a sequel/prequel no one will look forward to. Unfortunately, that won’t stop the production company from painfully drawing out the story and milking it for every dollar it isn’t worth.