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Times of India
Tragedy strikes the Russell household after the parents succumb to mysterious deaths. Their young son is convicted of their murders while the daughter blames a possessed mirror in the house for the killings. Haunted by the past, 11 years later, the siblings decide to decode the mystery.
To begin with, Oculus bears no resemblance to 2008 horror film Mirrors. It is by far one of the most cleverly executed psychological horror films that puts you through hell without resorting to gore. The non-linear narrative structure sees the past overlapping with present, real with unreal, facts with hallucinations and truth with deception as siblings Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), now in their 20s, try to resolve the mysterious deaths in the family. The two track down the mirror and put it under observation, thus surrendering themselves to their terrifying past once again.
Filmmaker Mike Flanagan should be lauded for coming up with an unconventional, original premise that offers much more than the standard scares or cliched back-stories. No done-to-death tricks are used, like doors unlocking themselves or a sound of footsteps when nobody is around. It's the fear of the unknown that grips you and creates a sense of ever-increasing dread throughout. Set in different time periods, with the past colliding with present, the film plays evil mind games that will make you think twice before dismissing occurrences as 'hallucinations'. The grotesque events will challenge you to question your sanity, just like the characters.
If you find mirrors spooky, stay away. And if you love to check yourself out in the mirror, this low-budget thriller will compel you to think otherwise.
Oculus has a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 8th September 2013.
Director Mike Flanagan makes his debut with this film.