Something as innocuous as a man buying a mirror leads to offensively horrible consequences that made me want to cry.
What do you actually look for when you decide to turn off the lights and watch a horror film? A few cheap scares? An overriding sense of dread? Unflinching horror seared into your brain forever? Well then Oculus is for you! Like other recent horror classics 1408, Session 9 and Grave Encounters, Oculus messes with the viewers head as much as the characters. Oculus takes lot of classic elements of the horror genre (haunted item with a history of death and destruction, father turns against family, mirrors in general) and fuses them all together to create something fresh and really rather good. It is gory but not gratuitously so and it plays on our biggest fears (‘I’m not safe in my own home’, ‘What if there was no way to escape’, etc).
One thing Oculus is missing is a great actor. John Cusack turns a pretty naff idea into a modern horror classic in 1408 and Peter Mullan’s performance is the heart of Session 9 but the acting is a distraction in Oculus. I’m not a fan of Dr. Who but I always found Karen Gillan likeable and natural. Here her character is much more of the classic horror film mould of making ridiculous decisions and reacting to things in a completely unlikely way and just being generally unpleasant. There is also zero chemistry between the two main characters despite the fact they are supposed to be brother and sister. Could have been brilliant, ends up just being very good, but definitely genuinely frightening.