By Brian Burlage, Daily Arts Writer
Published March 25, 2014
If the producers of “Insidious” and “Paranormal Activity” have taught us anything, it would be this: demonic possession and creepy antique objects often go hand in hand, and when this dueling terror-combo decides to raise hell, the result is pure cinematic horror.
A broad, wooden-framed mirror is the focus of the film, as all evil and fright gravitates within its sinister control. Throughout the centuries of the mirror’s existence, the families dwelling in its presence have been repeatedly driven to criminal insanity, as those who get possessed by its evil embark on sudden killing-sprees and slaughter their entire families. For years, investigators overlook the evil of the mirror, that is, until a family in the present day becomes suspicious of its possessive powers.
Sure, “Oculus” would seem to fulfill the quota of surprise moments, gruesome-looking evil figures lurking in the dark and heart-wrenching intensity. But the film also promises so much more. Cleverly written and smartly shot, it reveals a multitude of converging themes: historical drama, family disintegration, sibling relationships, mystery, semblances of time travel and the good versus evil conflict. Instead of relying on the basic horror-movie template to create a good scare, “Oculus” utilizes depth of character and a multi-faceted story to drive home a serious mental, emotional and spiritual fright fest.