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Film / Oculus

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"Hello again! You must be hungry."
Kaylie Russell

Oculus is a 2013 psychological/supernatural horror film directed by Mike Flanagan (Absentia) and starring Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) in their mainstream film debuts.

In 2002, the Russell family moves into a new home, buying an antique mirror called the Lasser Glass for some new decor. Parents Marie (Katee Sackhoff) and Alan (Rory Cochrane) begin to behave increasingly oddly, and the family is soon shattered when young son Tim is accused of killing his father.

Eleven years later, Kaylie Russell (Gillan) recruits Tim (Brenton Thwaites), recently released from the asylum, to help prove the mirror's power and then destroy it. She believes it caused the deaths of their parents and scores of other people over the past three centuries. Tim's version of past events differs, offering a more realistic view of their childhood trauma.


They return to their childhood home after re-acquiring the Lasser Glass. Despite taking several precautions against the mirror's power to alter its victims' perception of reality, it refuses to go without a fight...

Has nothing to do with the Oculus Rift.

This film contains examples of:

  • Cassandra Truth: The neighbor Kaylie brings sides with the father, as the kids try and explain that the mirror is haunted and evil.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Subverted - the phones work just fine, they just can't trust anything they hear or see over them while they're within the mirror's reach. And since they can't know for sure if they're within the mirror's reach, well...
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kaylie's kill switch for the mirror ultimately does her in.
  • Clear Their Name: Kaylie's motivation is to make everyone know her father wasn't insane and evil, and that her brother isn't crazy.
  • Diabolus ex Machina:
    • Kaylie's overarching plan is to record the actions of the mirror so as to prove that it's supernatural. For this plan to work, it's made to be that digital video reveals what actually is there or what actually happens. Note, however, that there are three cameras in the room. One clearly shows that both protagonists were in the room, since the police comment on the resulting video. Yet Tim taking even a single glance at the mirror from the timer's dial would require him to look directly at one of the monitors directly connected to the cameras. Where he would then see Kaylie standing there and prevent her from being in front of the mirror.
    • The Lasser Glass may not be able to alter the camera footage, but it can apparently alter a person's perception of that footage, as shown when Kaylie looks at the shards of the smashed plant pot through her cell phone, and sees nothing, believing the shards are an illusion and leading her to possibly fatally stab her fiancé. Tim may have looked dead into the monitor, but the mirror didn't let him see Kaylie standing there.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: When Kaylie unveils the mirror she makes a snippy remark ("Hello again; you must be hungry"), then jumps as she sees a hallucination of a statue turning to look at her.
  • Downer Ending: Both Kaylie and possibly her fiancé are dead, Tim is arrested for their murder, and the mirror is free to strike again.
  • Dying as Yourself: Done as a Cruel Mercy by the mirror, releasing its hold on their parents just as they get killed.
  • Demonic Possession: The mirror pulls this trick on Kaylie and Tim's parents, and tries to make them kill each other and their children.
  • Evil Phone: The mirror can mess with phones this way. The last time, it sounds like it's chanting something that sounds like something from the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Fingore: Alan pulls off one of his fingernails while under the influence of the mirror, believing it to be a band-aid. The rest of his nails join later.
  • For the Evulz: The mirror seems to lack any other motivation other than to spread chaos and death.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Mirror spirits have highly reflective, almost glowing eyes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The anchor failsafe, which Kaylie installs in order to destroy the mirror if something happened to them, ends up killing her instead.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The mirror will sometimes project out spirits that look like its past human victims, but which have Glowing Eyes of Doom, Tainted Veins and other Body Horror issues.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Kaylie sets up a kill switch on an anchor to destroy the mirror any time they're ready, noting that because it isn't electrical, the mirror can't mess with it. Several times it's apparent that the mirror has the power to stop things from hitting it, but it only becomes evident when Tim and Kaylie (as their childhood selves) run at it with golf clubs, only to find their every blow hitting the wall next to it.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The scene where the mirror tricks Kaylie into eating a lightbulb instead of an apple. Though ultimately played with, as it turns out it was the apple she was eating after all.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Played straight; Kaylie and Tim were the only ones who survived the mirror's influence. However, children eventually become adults...
    • Averted in the mirror's backstory. Most of the victims were adults, but one killed her children.
  • Invincible Villain: All of the characters' precautions ultimately prove ineffective by the end. Considering how Lovecraftian the movie is, this actually seems appropriate.
  • Little Miss Badass: Young Kaylie bashes her possessed mother in the head with a golf club and subsequently jumps out a second story window with no hesitation.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's difficult to tell exactly what influence the mirror actually has on the events of the film, whether it genuinely has reality warping powers and the things we see happen to the main characters actually occur, whether its power is limited to Mind Screw and altering the characters' perception, or in fact, if it has any powers at all or is just a regular mirror, and the events of the film are just the characters' own insanity.
  • Mind Screw: Between the flashback and the modern day parts - sometimes being shown in the same frame - it's hard to tell who is doing what.
  • Pater Familicide: What kicks off the plot is Kaylie and Tim's father attempting to murder them.
  • Properly Paranoid: Kaylie has a great plan to catch the mirror in the act. Sadly, the mirror can outthink her.
  • Reality Warper: Possibly. It's not 100% clear if the mirror is simply changing a person's perception or changing reality.
  • Skeptic No Longer: The psychological terror to a very great extent relies on the conflict of belief between Tim and Kaylie: Tim is skeptical of the mirror's supernatural powers, while Kaylie is not. Tim first channels the rationalizing explanations of academic psychology but is forced to revise his explanations in the face of overwhelming evidence later in the film.
  • Tempting Fate: If you believe that Michael's death was another hallucination, then Kaylie promising him that things would go back to normal between them before she left for two days certainly qualifies, since she dies at the climax of the film.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The film introduces the mirror from Kaylie's perspective, which is that it's a supernatural Reality Warper. Tim, however, offers a mundane explanation for what happened during his childhood with Kaylie, and uses psychology to explain Kaylie's memories of supernatural events.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never learn where the mirror came from. Kaylie herself said she couldn't find any information about its origins.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: "Dog" never returns. Although given what Kaylie was trying to use it for, it's possible it got "eaten" and the mirror made them think that Tim let it go.


Video Example(s):


Oculus - Hello Again

Kaylie sees three sheets move in the reflection of the haunted mirror. Two of the sheets just have statues underneath them, but we never find out who or what is under that third sheet.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / NothingIsScarier

Media sources:

Main / NothingIsScarier