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Oculus


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Horror, USA, 2013, 104 min.

Tagline You see what it wants you to see.

Synopsis The movie begins with two young children trying to open the front door in the middle of the night. The children are Kaylie (Annalise Basso) and her younger brother Tim Russell (Garrett Ryan). The pair are obviously trying to escape from the house. They hear footsteps and turn around to see someone carrying a gun approaching. Kaylie steps between the menacing figure and her brother, staring up defiantly at the gunman. The camera rotates so we see a young man holding the gun, looking horrified. The gun fires and...The young man holding the gun wakes up from his nightmare. We soon learn that this young man is a grown-up Tim (Brenton Thwaites). He is in a mental hospital. He tells his doctor that this is the first time that he, and not his dad, was holding the gun in his dream. The doctor says that this is Tim's final breakthrough (it signifies that he has finally taken responsibility for past actions) and will recommend he be released.Meanwhile, we see his now-grown sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan). She works for an auction firm and is overseeing an auction with her fiancée and co-worker, Michael Dumont (James Lafferty). They watch as an antique mirror is auctioned off. The mirror, called the "Lasser Glass," is in near mint condition except for a crack in the bottom right-hand corner. The mirror is sold for tens of thousands of dollars.In a flashback to 11 years ago, the Russell family is moving in to a new house. Tim and Kaylie play happily with each other and their family dog. They are watched by their mother Marie (Katee Sackhoff), while their father Alan (Rory Cochrane) begins setting up his new home office and is on the phone with his boss. Although Alan is a workaholic, he loves his kids, calling them by affectionate nicknames. The movers carry the Lasser Glass into the home and place it into Alan's office. Marie is surprised that Aland bought this mirror, but does admire the mirror's beauty.Later that night, young Kaylie sleeps in her bed. She is awakened to find her parent strangling her with a demonic grin. She begins screaming... and wakes up in bed next to Michael who is comforting her. He says she was having one of her night terrors.The next morning, Kaylie is confronted by Michael at work. He notes that she submitted an order to have the Lasser Glass repaired before it is delivered to the winning bidder. Michael says that when he last spoke to the head of the company, the boss had not wanted to repair the mirror. Kaylie coldly says the boss changed his mind. Michael also says that the I.T. department also found images of corpses on her computer. She asks him to have patience with her for a couple of days and then everything will be back to normal. He agrees to stand by her.Tim tells his doctor that Kaylie has found him an apartment and is helping him get a job. The doctor says that it is good for he and Kaylie to reconnect, but also reminds Tim that Kaylie did not receive treatment after the incident, but was instead sent into foster care. He says Tim must guard make sure Kaylie doesn't undo his recovery. Tim walks out and Kaylie is waiting for him, a smile on her face.She takes Tim out for lunch and they catch up. Suddenly, Kaylie asks Tim if he is ready to keep their promise. He says he doesn't know what she is talking about. She says that they promised to destroy the mirror that ruined their lives. Tim says that the mirror did nothing, but that their dad was abusive and killed their mother and tried to kill them too. Kaylie is upset that Tim blames their dad for their mother's murder and says she will be destroying the mirror with or without his help the next night. Tim asks to be taken to his apartment.Eleven years ago. We see Marie looking in her new bathroom mirror. She lifts up her nightgown to look at her C-section scar. She gets into bed and complains to Alan that her scar looks worse. He asks to look at it and begins kissing her belly while asking "what scar?" Marie is pleased at her husband's flattery, and the two make love in their new home.We see adult Kaylie walk into the warehouse, where the Lasser Glass is covered by a sheet. She gives the warehouse employee the repair order and tells him she will personally drive the mirror to the repair center. The warehouse employee leaves to process the form and Kaylie takes off the sheet covering the mirror. She sees her reflection and two covered objects behind her. She runs her hand over the crack and then asks the mirror if it remembers her. She also notes that it is probably hungry. She looks up and now sees three objects covered in sheets behind her, and one of the objects moves. She looks behind her and sees only two figures. She turns back to the mirror and says she will be destroying it. Kaylie then sees all three figures behind her move. Kaylie turns around and now there really are three objects behind her. She walks over and pulls the sheets off the first two objects, revealing statues beneath. She begins to tug at the third sheet when the warehouse man comes back in and distracts her. Kaylie looks back and once again sees only two statues. They load the Lasser Glass into her car (covered once again) and Kaylie dries off.Past - Alan wanders downstairs for a midnight snack. As he journeys back to the bedroom, he thinks he sees a ghoulish woman in the hallway. He turns on the light and walks into his office, where all he sees is the mirror.Present - Tim calls up Kaylie and says he apologies for the other day. He wants to see her and asks where they can meet. Kaylie says to meet them at their old home. Tim goes to the house and sees Kaylie there with the mirror. He helps her carry it inside their father's old office. There are some holes in the wall near the spot where the mirror once hung. She tells Tim to look around. The house was never sold and she and Tim now have officially inherited the place. Kaylie hasn't changed a thing from their childhoodTim looks in the dining room and remembers their family having a happy dinner there. He also remembers his family's plants dying soon after they move in. We also learn that Alan killed their mother and that Tim then shot their dad to death (thus why he was sent to a mental asylum while Kaylie was put into foster care).Tim walks into the office and sees Kaylie once again hanging the uncovered Lasser Glass in the office. She turns on video cameras, each of which are battery powered. There are also plants and temperature gauges throughout the house. Kaylie has also bought a dog, which sits in a cage in front of the mirror. She also shows that she has stores of food and water. She tells Tim that she plans to destroy the mirror tonight, but before she does, she wants to document proof that the mirror is supernatural and evil. In this way she hopes to clear her father's nameKaylie begins recording. She has researched the history of the Lasser Glass and begins telling it to the cameras. Every person who has owned the mirror ended up gruesomely killed, often mutilating their own bodies (the photos on her work computer were of the past owners, she holds the picture of each owner in front of the video camera). Parents have killed their children and individuals have killed themselves. All victims were found dehydrated and malnourished. She explains that she has set up four battery-operated timers. One is to remind them to drink every so often, one is to remind them to eat.Tim says that the mirror isn't haunted, and that he and Kaylie made up the story to cope with their father's brutality. The two argue, and Tim begrudgingly agrees to allow the experiment to proceed for now.Past - Young Kaylie runs through the yard, playing laser-tag with her brother. She looks in her dad's office and thinks she sees a woman rubbing Alan's chest. She blinks and the woman disappears. Later at dinner, they sit around talking. Alan seems distant and is chewing his nails. Marie says that she always hated that habit. Alan accidentally chews his nail completely off. He goes and puts on a bandage. Kaylie asks him who the woman in his office was. He responds that there was no woman in his office.Present - Kaylie is recording again. She notes that the mirror feeds off of life force, starting with plants and animals. Thus, she has healthy, live plants and the dog in the house so that the mirror can begin feeding from them while she records it. The Lasser Glass also interferes with electricity, which is why she has plenty of spare light bulbs and battery-powered devices. Its power also causes extreme changes in temperature (thus the thermometers) It eventually consumes its owners, dehydrating and feeding off them, often after driving them to madness in the process (thus the timers to remind them to eat and drink). She says that she has a couple other safeguards. First Michael has agreed to call Kaylie every hour (though he is unaware of her plan, her belief that the mirror is evil, or why Kaylie wants him to call) and if she doesn't answer, to call the police. Finally, rigged to the ceiling, is an axe connected to an egg timer. If the timer isn't reset every half-hour, the axe will swing down from the ceiling right into the center of the mirror.Past - As time went on, the Russell's family dog gets weaker and weaker. One day, it constantly barks to go into the home office where the mirror hangs. Annoyed by the barking, Marie lets the dog in. The dog begins to whimper, but Marie is unable to open the doors. When Alan gets home, he forces the doors open, but the dog has disappeared. During this period of time, something is moving Alan's stuff around his office. He blames the kids, and bans them from his office.Present - Tim gets very upset with Kaylie and goes to call his doctor. Kaylie stops him and says to make any calls outside, as the mirror can mimic voices on the phone so long as they are within its range. Tim asks why they don't just destroy the mirror now. Kaylie tells him to do so if he can. Tim takes a stool and walks over to the mirror to smash it with the stool. He then puts the stool down and says he won't destroy the mirror. Instead, he insists Kaylie must do it as these stories are part of her delusions. Therefore, she must destroy the delusion. Kaylie points out that Tim has put down the stool, and asks if he remembers putting it down. He doesn't answer, but Kaylie says that the mirror has defenses against a direct human attack. She says in its recorded history, only one person ever tried to attack the mirror. He tried to hit it with a fire poker, but stopped just before he struck it. After staring at it for some time, the man left his home and walked into traffic where he was killed. We see a quick flashback of Kaylie and Tim swinging golf clubs at something.After some time, Tim points out that the plants and dog are still alive, and the only one endangering the dog is Kaylie. The two argue, with Tim saying that Alan was having an affair (we see a flashback of Alan with another woman), and that the dog died at the veterinarian's office (flashback of the family getting bad news that the dog needed to be put down). He says that Kaylie's memories concerning the mirror are fabricated. He lets the dog out of its cage and out of the house. He then begs Kaylie to leave the house with him after disarming her axe trap, saying leaving right then will spare her from losing her job and possibly her relationship with Michael. They are about to leave when Kaylie looks down and sees that the plants in the house are dead!They run back into the office and see that the cameras have been turned around so as not to record the mirror. They replay the tape and see that during their argument, they were subconsciously disabling the video-cameras. The mirror creates illusions, meaning they can't trust their own eyes (although the illusions do not affect the video camera). Tim agrees in earnest to destroy the mirror.Past - Alan types away at his computer in his office. The bandage is still on his injured finger and is bothering him. He takes it off and begins typing again, only to see the bandage is still on his finger. He tries to take it off, but it is stuck. He uses a staple remover to try and grip it, but ends up digging it into his own finger, drawing blood. Alan realizes that the bandage had not been on his finger after all. He hears voices from the mirror, and his eyes glaze over.Present - The pair eat and drink when the alarm goes off and replace light bulbs as they go out (when the mirror uses its powers, it blows out the electricity). Kaylie is eating an apple, but the mirror tricks her into taking a bite out of a light bulb, which is itself an illusion (it was actually the apple). It is clear that the mirror is gaining in power. Tim runs outside and calls his doctor for advice. He has a conversation with the doctor and is suddenly slapped by Kaylie. It turns out he never left the house but had crouched in the hallway and spoke to nobody. The mirror is capable of creating powerful illusions to trick people into doing what it wants.Past - Alan is growing more distant and detached. He spends nights alone in his office. One day, Marie hears him talking to someone in his office. She asks who he is talking to, and he says he isn't talking to anyone. As she leaves the room, she hears Alan call her a "grotesque cow." Her already sensitive psyche is wounded.Present - The pair are becoming more stressed out by the illusions They are now seeing chains, broken plates and blood throughout the house. They agree to stick together.Past - Marie, Tim, and Kaylie sit at the dinner table without Alan. Marie is drinking an entire bottle of wine herself and has made toast for dinner. She looks physically ill. Marie asks the kids to tell her more about the woman in Alan's office. Kaylie lies and says she didn't see a woman after all, but Tim says that he has now seen the woman. Tim says the woman was standing on the stairs one night, and it scared him.Present - Kaylie is sitting by herself. Suddenly, the woman emerges from the darkness to attack her. She backs up, though she claims the woman is an illusion created by the mirror. Kaylie continues backing up as more ghosts appear. These ghosts are the spirits of the past victims of the mirror (they look like the people in the photos that Kaylie showed at the beginning). Apparently, once it kills you, the Lasser Glass can conjure the victim's ghostly souls at will and program them to kill the person it targets. They advance on her, when the food and drink alarms go off. Kaylie snaps to reality due to the alarms, and realizes that she is standing in front of the mirror with the egg timer about to go off. If she hadn't recovered, the axe will would have struck her instead of the mirror. She runs and resets the timer and then smashes the alarm clocks in anger.Kaylie runs around looking for Tim. She kicks the pots with the dead plants all around the house, shattering them.Past - Alan goes out golfing and tells the kids to stay out of his office. Later that day, Kaylie hears the vacuum cleaner and sees her mom just standing with it in the office, staring at the mirror.Present - Kaylie walks down the stairs and sees broken plates on the floor. She looks at the floor through her camera phone and sees there are no shards. She looks again with her own eyes and still sees the shards. Kaylie picks one up, mocking the illusion of the broken plates. Suddenly, the woman from the mirror stands in front of her. She stabs the woman in the neck.... and the illusion dissolves revealing that she actually stabbed Michael (he probably came to the house as she had no longer heard/answered his phone calls). Thinking this is another illusion, she calls out to Tim. Tim runs downstairs and also sees Michael. He is dead (having been stabbed in the neck). Kaylie notes that she couldn't have stabbed Michael as the plate shards were an illusion. Tim looks down and sees a bloody shard of the pots from the plants she had broken earlier.Past - Marie goes into the office while the kids are in bed. Their parents have been fighting constantly, not even stopping when the children are in the room. Marie looks through Alan's papers and sees him having scrawled the name of another woman throughout. She screams and pushes stuff off Alan's desk. She goes to pick it up, and suddenly throws something at the mirror. Though she misses, the mirror "reacts" and the lights in the entire house blow out. In the mirror, she sees her reflection, but it does not mirror her actual image. Marie walks closer to the mirror. Her "reflection" lifts its shirt to show her C-section scar being ripped apart and uglier than ever. She screams (as she is cutting her stomach open in reality). The kids run downstairs and Tim approaches his mother. A seemingly possessed Marie spins around and begins strangling Tim. Kaylie attacks her mom and Tim escapes her grasp. The siblings run upstairs with their mom in close pursuit. Suddenly Alan comes home and hears the commotion. He puts Marie into a choke hold after she attacks him, rendering her unconscious and almost killing her. Alan calls the police... but the phone only whispers with the voice of the mirror. Alan's eyes glaze over and he drags Marie's body into his bedroom. He locks Marie in, goes downstairs and gets a chain and collar and returns to the room. The children cry.Present - Tim and Kaylie still stand over Michael's dead body. Tim runs outside the house and calls the police, asking for assistance. Kaylie follows him out.Past - Alan has the kids in his office. He says that Marie is sick and that they are not to enter the bedroom as she needs peace and quiet. He also tells the kids they can play in his office (though it is apparent from their faces they will not do so). As days go on, they run out of food. Their dad pays no attention to them at all, spending day and night looking at the Lasser Glass. They try calling a doctor, but each time they get the exact same response from the other end, telling them that they need their dad to call the office. They realize the mirror is controlling the phones. Kaylie runs to her neighbor for help, but the neighbor simply brings her back home. Alan forces them to stay in the house permanently, and we see he has ripped off all his finger nails.Present - Tim gets Kaylie to agree to leave and wait for the police. He notes that the egg timer will go off and release the axe, killing the Lasser Glass. They walk down the path to the curb, but through the office window, they see themselves standing in front of the mirror (and thus, the axe will hit them instead of the mirror). They argue as to whether they are really outside or, in fact, they are standing in front of the mirror (i.e., is being outside an illusion?). To check, Tim calls the police again. From the other end of the line, they hear a voice saying that they need their dad to call the office. This convinces them that being outside is an illusion and they are, in fact, standing in front of the mirror. They walk back towards the house to wake themselves up.Past - Kaylie and Tim hear noises from their parent's bedroom. They go to Alan and demand that he get help for Marie, but he ignores them. They go upstairs and into their parent's bedroom. Kaylie walks in and is attacked by a now-feral and emaciated Marie. Kaylie is not injured because Alan has collared and chained Marie to the bedroom wall. The two kids run from the room. Kaylie tells Tim they have to do promise to destroy the mirror, and they have to be brave.Present - Tim tells Kaylie they have to be brave. They re-enter the house and Kaylie sees Michael's ghost, confirming he is dead and his soul has been taken by the mirror. Suddenly, their dad's ghost appears.At this point the two time lines merge, with the adult siblings acting out exactly what happened to them as kids, but with the ghost versions of their parents performing the actions of their parents when they were kids. They keep changing from child to adult throughout this entire sequence (ostensibly, they are in "kid" form when they are under the influence of the illusion, "adult" form when they realize they are in an illusion, but they keep succumbing and breaking out of it seemingly at random).Alan confronts the children as they try to sneak to the office. Tim hits their dad and they run upstairs. Alan follows, but he goes into the bedroom. We see that Marie is eating plates as though they were food (thus the plate shards Kaylie hallucinated) and the plates have caused her tongue to be severed from her mouth and most of her teeth to break. Alan lets Marie free and she immediately runs on all fours after her children. They lock themselves in the bathroom.Kaylie tells Tim that they need to get out of the bathroom. She says she will open the door and distract her mom so that Tim can run downstairs. Kaylie manages to distract her mom and make it to safety, locking herself in her bedroom while Marie is in the hallway. Kaylie climbs out the window and jumps to freedom. She begins to run off, but realizing that Tim is still inside, returns to the house. Kaylie sees Tim hiding, but before she can do the same, Marie attacks and knocks Kaylie to the floor.Marie wraps her hands around Kaylie's throat. Kaylie struggles, but is no match for her possessed mother. Suddenly, Marie relaxes her grip and tearfully smiles down at her daughter, having regained her sanity. Before they can do anything else, Alan shoots and kills Marie. While Alan stands over Marie's body, Kaylie grabs Tim and the two of them run into the office. Grabbing Alan's golf clubs, Tim and Kaylie attack the mirror with the clubs. Somehow, they can't manage to hit the mirror, only smashing holes in the wall (thus leading to adult Kaylie realizing that they needed to have a mechanical device destroy the mirror as it can't be harmed by a human's intentional actions).Alan storms in and grabs Tim. He sticks his gun into Tim's face and begins to squeeze the trigger when Kaylie smacks him with a golf club. Alan drops the gun and grabs Kaylie, pushing her against the mirror and strangling her. Tim grabs the gun and yells at his father to let his sister go. Alan looks at Tim and, like Marie before him, appears to regain his senses for a moment. Alan bends down to his knees and places the barrel against his chest. Tim can't fire on his dad, but Alan places his finger over Tim's finger on the trigger. He tells Tim and Kaylie to run away and then presses down Ted's finger. The gun fatally shoots Alan and he flies backwards into the Lasser Glass, cracking its bottom right corner.Present - Having realized both parents sacrificed themselves to protect them, Tim manages to break out of the hallucination. He sees that he is in the office by himself.Kaylie has not broken out of the hallucination and is still wandering the house as her younger self. Young Kaylie sees the Lasser Glass and within it, her real mother. Marie opens her arms and young Kaylie runs up to the mirror and embraces her mother's reflection.Tim runs to the egg-timer and twists the knob to zero. The axe plummets from the ceiling and.....Buries itself into Kaylie's back. It turns out Tim didn't break the hallucination, the Lasser Glass let him out of it. The mirror then concealed from Tim the fact that Kaylie, still trapped in the hallucination, was hugging the mirror. Kaylie dies and we hear the mirror suck in her essence. The Lasser Glass remains undamaged beyond the crack made from Alan's death. Tim breaks down sobbing as he hears police sirens in the distance.Present - The cops are escorting Tim out of the house. Two cops talk inside, noting that Tim himself called the police (meaning his earlier call regarding Michael had, in fact, gone through). They then watch Kaylie's video and see Tim release the axe while Kaylie stands in front of the mirror. It seems from the video that Tim murdered his sister in cold blood.Past - We see the cops taking Kaylie and Tim from the house, their parents dead inside. Tim is put in a police car while Kaylie screams that it was the mirror, not her father, who killed everyone. Before Tim is taken away, Kaylie yells out to him not to forget their promise to destroy the mirror. As the cops drive Tim away, he looks in the office window and sees the ghosts of his parents watching him leave, their souls captured by the Lasser Glass.Present - We see the cops taking Tim from the house, Kaylie and Michael dead inside. Tim is put in a police car while screaming that it was the mirror, not himself, who killed everyone. As the cops drive Tim away, he looks in the office mirror and now sees the ghosts of his parents and Kaylie watching him leave, their souls captured by the Lasser Glass.

Directed by Mike Flanagan  

Starring Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, more...

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