Film review: Oculus (6 out of 10)

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Creating a good horror movie is surely pretty easy in theory - keep it simple, don’t make the plot too complicated.

If you look at some of the successful movies in this genre (Paranormal Activity and even several year ago with Blair Witch Project) there’s a no fuss approach.

Karen Gillan and Brendon Thwaites in Oculus

Karen Gillan and Brendon Thwaites in Oculus

However, Oculus breaks that ‘rule’ because it’s just too complicated.

And that’s what let’s it down ultimately.

The acting is sound enough and Scotland’s Karen Gillan (formerly of Dr Who fame), sports a very impressive American accent as well as showing a range of emotions.

Brendon Thwaites (Australian) also seems to have the accent nailed and again is pretty convincing.

The story sees Tim Russell (Thwaites) leaving a psychiatric ward after several years, having killed his father.

His sister Kaylie (Gillan) greets him with the news that she is going back to the family home where both their parents died on that fateful night.

Not only that but she has reclaimed the rather grand-looking mirror that she believes was the cause of all their woes.

Is it haunted, can a simple piece of furniture create such mayhem?

The plot rattles along and takes the audience on some interesting paths, but in the end heads for a more tried and trusted road that doesn’t really answer too many questions..

We are also taken back to the siblings’ past on the night all hell was let loose and Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan deserve praise for their portrayal as the younger sister and brother versions.

The present and past get quite mixed in the latter stages so you end up a bit confused what’s going on.

Katee Sackhoff (as the children’s mum) at last gets a half-decent role in a movie. She promised much in the Battlestar Gallactica TV series a few years ago but last year’s appearance in the film Riddick didn’t really test her.

Here she proves her worth.

Rory Cochrane as the dad also does nothing wrong, but perhaps we needed him to be a bit more extreme rather just the silent but deadly type.

The ‘horror’ moments are surprisingly few and far between, which sort of makes this more of a psychological thriller.

However, overall this falls short of what I hoped for while watching the film. It could have been very good if it had followed a different path.

It does, however, make me keen to see if Oculus Chapter 3 - The Man with a Plan (2006), a short indie movie that seems to have inspired this ‘remake’, is a better version.

Film details: Oculus (15) 104mins

Director: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Karen Gillan, Brendon Thwaites, Katee Sakchoff, Rory Cochrane

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

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