Oculus, film review: Creaking plot doesn't make Mike Flanagan's horror any less chilling

(15) Mike Flanagan, 104 mins Starring: Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff, Brenton Thwaites
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The Independent Culture

Oculus is a slick, cleverly constructed horror film that can't quite escape its contrivances. As in one part of classic British 1945 horror film Dead of Night, the source of all evil here is a mirror.

This handsome antique has caused 45 deaths over four centuries and is now playing havoc with an all-American family, the Russells. The screenplay flits back and forth in time in lithe but confusing fashion.

Eleven years ago, when Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) were teenagers, the mirror caused death, destruction and spectacular family breakdown. Now, they are young adults and the only way they can exorcise the past is to look in the haunted glass again.

The director, Mike Flanagan, tries to have it both ways – to make his film both a ghoulish, supernatural shocker and a family psychodrama. The plot creaks but that doesn't make its shock tactics any the less chilling.