The story which seems rather silly at first – a haunted mirror – actually has a great deal of depth, and builds a rich mythos behind it. It’s the kind of original story you just don’t see anymore. And while it’s loaded with foreshadowing, its keeps the viewer committed to discovering the truth. The film is set in two time periods, jumping between them to dizzying effect and creating an unnerving sense of disorientation (made rather visceral with a thumping aural soundtrack).
But Oculus is not for everyone. This film has an independent heart beating at it’s core, and doesn’t have the broad mainstream appeal of straightforward films like The Conjuring or Paranormal Activity. Horror’s big cash cow (teenagers) will likely be scratching their heads on this one (assuming they get in since it’s an R-rated film). Ultimately, Oculus achieves a terrifying atmosphere with a faceless, inanimate antagonist at the head, avoiding many of the standard gimmicks, and relying on old-fashioned, slow building tension. It’s unusual, perplexing, non-linear, and I wonder if audiences will truly connect to this gem.