Daily Archives: April 17, 2020

Horror Films A to Z ~ Oculus


Year: 2013
Runtime: 1h 44m
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Jeff Seidman
Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff

A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.

Initial: Mike Flanagan does some good stuff. Karen Gillan is always a favorite. But am I ready for a movie seemingly full of weird mirror stuff?

Production Notes: Co-produced by WWE Studios. Yes, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. has a movie production arm. Mostly, they finance vehicles for their wrestling talent, but it has put some money into a few indie projects like Oculus and Sleight (2017).

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead) If you liked Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House and haven’t seen Oculus, it should go to the top of your watch list. Great performances from kids? Check. Whacked family dynamics? Check. Timey-whimy plot structure? Check. Since I hadn’t watched the trailer, I didn’t realize “proving” the supernatural was going to involve an elaborate plan by Kaylie to reverse debunk a cursed mirror. Ghost hunting as a horror movie conceit is one of my favorite tropes!

I liked how Oculus worked out, plot-wise. There is some ambiguity about whether the mirror is haunted or whether the family just has mental problems. Flanagan fought against the story being adapted to the found footage genre, but it would be great if there was a supplementary movie of the what Kaylie’s cameras caught? I didn’t realize that not only does Mike Flanagan write and direct most of his projects, but he edits them too. For good or ill, this leads to a very homogeneous feel across his projects (at least the ones I’ve seen).