Oculus

  • Review Date: April 9, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Outstanding horror flick has gore, children in peril.
  • Review Date: April 9, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the characters quickly get themselves in too deep (and resort to stealing, lying, and violence), Oculus has a very strong, interesting sibling relationship. Yes, they argue, but they also clearly care for each other and try to help and protect each other. But in the flashback sequences, the younger children are in peril, and their situation looks pretty hopeless.

Positive role models

While the brother and sister characters are well-written and interact in realistic ways -- working together, fighting, and trying to help each other -- overall, their behavior in the film isn't very admirable. Their plan requires stealing, lying, and resorting to violence and destruction.

Violence

Several very bloody, gory scenes. A man rips off his fingernails. A woman accidentally bites into a light bulb (she thinks it's an apple). A woman's scar turns into a bloody, gaping wound. In one scene, a woman shows photographs of grisly deaths and crime scenes. A gun is used. But the main issue here is in the flashbacks, showing two younger children in peril. They're neglected, ignored, tricked, trapped, and eventually attacked -- though viewers do know that they both lived to grow up.

Sex

Both a married couple and an engaged couple are shown kissing. A mom wears a sheer nightie around the house.

Language

"S--t" is heard a few times, and "f--k" is used a couple of times. "Damn," "hell," "Jesus," and "oh my God" are also heard a few times.

Consumerism

Apple computers are shown during a scene featuring surveillance equipment.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An upset mother drinks glass after glass of wine while her kids eat dinner.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Oculus is an outstanding horror film about a haunted mirror. Expect several gory scenes that are designed to induce squirms (including photos of grisly deaths and crime scenes, fingernails being ripped off, etc.); there are also some flat-out scary images that aren't meant for the faint of heart. But while there's plenty of blood in the movie, its real focus is on story and characters (the siblings are interesting, albeit not always admirable). Language is somewhat strong, with a few uses of "s--t" and one possible use of "f--k" (spoken quietly during a noisy scene). There's a scene of heavy drinking, some minor kissing between couples, and some Apple computers shown. The movie is likely to be a must-see for horror buffs, and many teens will want to see it, too.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

After 11 years, Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) -- who killed his father as a boy -- is released from a psychiatric hospital. His sister, Kaylie (Karen Gillan), immediately asks him to participate in a ritual: to help destroy the creepy old mirror that she thinks caused all the trouble. At first, it appears as if Kaylie may be crazy, but it soon becomes apparent that the mirror does have the power to make people see things. Before long, the siblings are flashing back to the events of their childhood, when the mirror drove their mother (Katee Sackhoff) into hysterics and turned their father (Rory Cochrane) into a homicidal maniac. Will Tim and Kaylie be able to tell reality from nightmare -- and survive?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Creepy mirrors have been featured in horror movies plenty of times before, but none of them have been anything quite like OCULUS. It immediately turns your expectations upside via the character of Tim, a troubled but cured soul with blood on his hands. The question of whether he'll kill again quickly becomes moot as his old bond with his sister re-asserts itself. The characters are strong and interact in vivid ways, and they remain the movie's anchor; they're no horror movie amateurs, and they struggle to stay on top of the scares.

But Oculus' real weapon is its flashbacks, which aren't specifically used as flashbacks but rather as illusions and nightmares forced upon the characters by the mirror's evil. They fold over into reality as younger and older versions of the same characters regard one another, and it's clear that they shouldn't be taken literally. This is a breakthrough for director Mike Flanagan, and (apologies for the pun) a most reflective horror movie.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Oculusviolence and gore. Which scenes were meant to make you squeal and squirm, and which had a more visceral effect? What's the difference between these moments? Do bloody scenes make a movie more frightening?

  • How scary is Oculus compared to other horror movies you've seen? What's scary about it? How did you feel about the scenes with the young children in peril? Did it make a difference knowing that they were only flashbacks or nightmares and that the children survive to grow up?

  • What's the relationship between the central brother and sister like? Is it realistic? Is it stereotypical? If you have siblings, how does it compare to your relationship with them?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 11, 2014
DVD release date:August 5, 2014
Cast:Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff, Brenton Thwaites
Director:Mike Flanagan
Studio:Relativity Media
Genre:Horror
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language

This review of Oculus was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written bymovienerd95 April 11, 2014
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Oculus will be in your head long after you leave

An excellent psychological creppy thriller that doesn't dissapoint. Far as content goes there are a few possible muttered F words and a few disturbing scenes with some blood but nothing over the top.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byHaithamB June 2, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Complex art with effective scares. Simply MAGNIFICENT.

James Wan's The Conjuring delivered the shocks with its simplicity but effective storyline and twists. This year's Oculus is even more effective, more intense, complex and just a fascinating scare fest. The movie features children in peril, nightmarish images, a disturbing plot line that keeps viewers on edge, throughout the 100 mins of runtime.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byBlake_Slaughter May 27, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

A lame movie with a horrible ending

Really though, I'm just giving this review a random age. Words can't describe how disappointed I was with this movie...

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