Several years ago Tim Russel’s (Scott Graham) father committed a horrible atrocity; it was always Tim’s contention that the large ornate mirror his father possessed was the cause of this terrible event. Now after years of research, Tim has traced the bloody trail of destruction that treads in the wake of this dark and forbidding mirror. With a history of over 300 years of mysterious circumstance, Tim intends to capture these horrors on tape and reveal the true nature of evil that lies within.
Director Mike Flanagan has crafted a taunt little short, which features a tour de force performance from Scott Graham. By encapsulating the action in one stark white room, Flanagan forces Graham to carry their entire crux of the film on his shoulders. Graham takes the role in stride and provides an extremely naturalistic portrayal in what could have easily been a montage nightmare of scenery scarfing.
The concept of an evil entity is nothing new, but Flanagan imbrues his film with a wonderful “less is more” aesthetic, by only glimpsing the mirror in brief flashes and focusing the bulk of the story on the terrible history of the object. Keeping the mirror under wraps allows the viewer to remain immersed in Grahams ever increasing delusion. Flanagan only makes a misstep by allowing a breaking of the portals dimension and allowing Graham to be briefly terrorized by unknown ghouls, which are presumably the victims of the glass. By the breach of this wall, Flanagan takes the film out of Graham’s mind and momentarily jars the viewer away from the tension of the films madness.
Regardless of any minor faux pas, Flanagan has still managed to make a lot of movie out of a little premise, and that bodes well for the future of the filmmaker. I found Oculus to be an entrancing and terrifying look into an indefinite evil and the utter darkness that dwells inside an obsessive mind.