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KAREN GILLAN & BRENTON THWAITES IN OCULUS

year: 2014
Horror film starlets, often known as scream queens, are naïve, shrill victims until, after enough punishment, they get a second wind and turn the tables on their aggressors…

But Karen Gillan’s Kaylie Russell is, from the beginning, assertive and actively intent on stopping her adversary… At least in the present time.

To say Kaylie and her brother Tim grew up in a dysfunctional family is an understatement... Since we’re given all the information up front, it’s not a spoiler exactly: dad killed mom after mom had gone toothless and berserk...

rating: **1/2
Sporadic flashbacks of the younger siblings eventually coincide with the main story, where Kaylie, who still owns the house where really bad things occurred, is dead set on facing and exposing her foe, which, in this particular case, is a mirror: all to prove her parents weren’t so crazy after all. 

Billed as a horror flick, OCULUS is really a paranormal mystery/suspense… The mystery involving an investigative Kaylie and her reluctant brother figuring out just how much power that antique mirror – able to hypnotize and then slowly kill humans, animals and plants  – still has inside the house… And the suspense is always palpable, making the audience ready for the next sudden chill: ranging from glimpses of an ominous wraith to screaming hallway chases... 

But it’s not all terrifying... There are bits of dark humor, mostly centered on Kaylie’s determination: she’s so stubborn, strong-willed and even cruel you can’t help but to laugh. And, countered by her passive brother played by Brenton Thwaites, whose somewhat limp performance pales to sis, this is really her show... Through thick and thin, she alone keeps us entertained… 

Too bad the frightful moments are few and far between. And when the demonic presence is finally revealed, appearing outside the mirror image, it has a few friends along, taking away from what could have been a much more contained, and thus way scarier, mindtrip rollercoaster ride. 
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