Oculus (film)



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Oculus (film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Produced by
Written by
  • Mike Flanagan
  • Jeff Howard
Based on Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan
by Mike Flanagan
Music by The Newton Brothers
Cinematography Michael Fimognari
Edited by Mike Flanagan
Distributed by Relativity Media
Release date
  • September 8, 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • April 11, 2014 (2014-04-11) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $44 million

Oculus is a 2013 American supernatural psychological horror film written, edited and directed by Mike Flanagan. The film had its world premiere on September 5, 2013, at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and received a wide theatrical release on April 11, 2014. Karen Gillan stars as a young woman who is convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortune that her family suffered. The film is based upon an earlier short film by Flanagan, Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan.


The film takes place in two different times: the present and 11 years earlier. The two plot lines are told in parallel through flashbacks with many cuts occurring between corresponding actions in each time frame. In 2002, software engineer Alan Russell moves into a new house with his wife Marie, 10-year-old son Tim, and 12-year-old daughter Kaylie. Alan purchases an antique mirror to decorate his office. Unbeknownst to them, the mirror supernaturally induces hallucinations. Marie is haunted by visions of her own body decaying, while Alan is seduced by a ghostly woman named Marisol, who has mirrors in place of eyes.

Over time, the parents become psychotic; Alan increasingly isolates himself in his office, and Marie becomes withdrawn and paranoid. All of the plants in the house die, and the family dog disappears after being shut in the office with the mirror. After Kaylie sees Alan with Marisol, she tells her mother, and the parents fight. One night, Marie sees her reflection in the mirror, and sees herself bleeding from an old scar. She goes insane and attempts to kill her children, but Alan overpowers her and locks her away, telling the children that she is unwell. When the family runs out of food, the children realize that their father is under the influence of the mirror, so Kaylie goes to seek help from their mother, and finds her chained to the wall and acting like an animal. Kaylie and Tim try going to their neighbors for help, but the neighbors disbelieve their stories. When Kaylie attempts to use the phone, she discovers that all of her phone calls are answered by the same man.

One night, Alan unchains Marie, and both parents attack the children. Marie briefly comes to her senses, only to be shot dead by Alan. The children try to destroy the mirror with golf clubs, but the mirror tricks them, making them believe they are hitting the mirror when they are actually hitting the wall. Alan corners the children in his office, but also experiences a moment of lucidity. He kills himself by taking the gun Tim is pointing at him and forcing Tim's finger against the trigger. Before dying, he begs the children to run, but Marisol and various other victims of the mirror appear as horrific ghosts. The police arrive and take Tim into custody. Before the siblings are separated, they promise to reunite as adults and destroy the mirror. As Tim is taken away in the back of a squad car, he sees the ghosts of his parents watching him from the house.

Eleven years later, Tim is discharged from a psychiatric hospital, having come to believe that there were no supernatural events involved in his parents' deaths. Kaylie, meanwhile, has spent most of her young adulthood researching the history of the mirror. Using her position as an employee of an auction house, Kaylie obtains access to the mirror and has it transported to the family home, where she places it in a room filled with surveillance cameras and a "kill switch" — an anchor weighted to the ceiling and set to a timer. Kaylie intends to destroy the mirror, but first wants to document its powers, proving Tim's innocence.

After Kaylie presents her research about deaths associated with the presence of the mirror, Tim attempts to convince her that she's mistaking correlation with causation in an attempt to blame their parents' deaths on a supernatural force. The siblings argue, and while perceiving no gaps in their conversation, they notice the houseplants begin to wilt. Upon reviewing the camera footage, they see themselves performing actions they have no memory of. Tim finally accepts that the mirror has some diabolical power and attempts to escape the house with Kaylie, only for the pair to be repeatedly drawn back by the mirror's influence. They try to call the police, but they are only able to reach the same voice who spoke to them on the phone as children. Seeing a hallucination of her deceased mother, Kaylie stabs it in the neck with a plate shard, only to then realize that she has stabbed her fiancé. Kaylie is convinced that she is suffering another hallucination, because she is unable to see the plate shards through her phone camera: no plate implies no stabbing. However, when she looks at the corpse through her phone camera, she continues to see her fiance, and is then convinced that she has killed him. Tim finally activates the kill switch, only realizing after the anchor has descended that Kaylie stood in its path, and he has killed her. The police arrive and arrest a hysterical Tim, just as they arrested him when he was younger. As both a boy and an adult, Tim claims the mirror is responsible. As he is taken away, the older Tim sees Kaylie's ghost standing in the house with his parents.



The film is based on Flanagan's earlier 2005 short horror film, also called Oculus. The short contained only one setting, a single actor, and a mirror. The short became highly acclaimed, and interest quickly arose regarding the adaptation of the short into a feature. Initially, studios were interested in making the film in accordance with the found footage genre; however, Flanagan was opposed to this and passed on such offers. Eventually, Intrepid Pictures expressed interest in producing the film "as long as you don't do it found footage".

Expanding the premise to a feature-length screenplay proved challenging, as Flanagan felt like he had "pushed the limit" of what could be done with the premise in the short. The solution Flanagan came across was to combine two storylines, past and present, intercut with one another. The idea was to "create a sense of distortion and disorientation that would be similar for the viewer as it was for Tim and Kaylie in the room." In early drafts, it was difficult to distinguish between the two timelines, until the team hit upon the idea of writing all of the scenes from the past in italics.

Inspired by the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, Flanagan chose to not explain the mirror's origins, describing to Den of Geek that he liked how Lovecraftian literature often seemed to be an "alien force that if you even were to try to comprehend it completely it would drive you mad." He expanded: "Evil in the world doesn't have an answer."

On October 27, 2012, filming wrapped in Fairhope, Alabama, after three weeks.


The film was first released on September 5, 2013, at the 2013 TIFF, and received a worldwide theatrical release on April 11, 2014.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on August 5, 2014.


Soundtrack album by The Newton Brothers
Released April 15, 2014
Genre Classical, stage and screen
Length 1:11:13
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Bryon Davis

The soundtrack to Oculus was released digitally on April 8, 2014 and on CD on April 15, 2014.

Track listing
1."Recurring Dream"1:34
2."The Auction"3:20
3."Moving IN"1:47
4."You Promised Me"1:20
5."Juice Box"0:33
6."Kaylie's Nightmare"0:57
7."Graphic Photos"1:48
8."The Mirror"1:02
9."Grotesque Cow"0:16
10."The Other Woman"0:16
11."Memories Surface"1:14
12."Dead Plants"0:47
13."We Have a Gun to Its Head"1:41
14."History of the Mirror"1:55
15."Fuzzy-Trace Theory"2:30
16."Mason Was Sick"0:27
18."Book Stacking"1:14
19."Whispers in the Glass"0:19
20."Who Are You Talking To?"1:04
21."The Reveal"2:55
22."Marisol, Marisol, Marisol"2:53
23."Shifting Glass"0:48
24."Marie's Breakdown"3:40
25."Lightbulbs & Apples"2:30
26."Seeing Things"0:57
27."Broken Plates"0:58
28."She Needs a Doctor"1:20
29."This Isn't Real"4:59
30."Staring Eyes"5:12
31."It Won't Let Us"0:56
32."I've Seen the Devil and He Is ME"2:54
33."A Mother's Embrace"3:17
35."Oculus" (Remix) (featuring Paul Oakenfold)2:49
36."Oculus of Glass" (featuring Paul Oakenfold)4:39
Total length:71:13

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