Directed By: Mike Flanagan

Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, and Garrett Ryan

In the horror department, 2014 has some big shoes to fill.  In the wake of a diverse slate of films back in 2013 including You're Next, The Conjuring, and The Purge, scary movie lovers rightfully have some pretty high expectations.  Considering flicks like Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Devil's Due, this year's entries into the genre have missed the mark to say the least.  This weekend, we're beginning to come out of what can only be deemed a creative hell for the genre.  This weekend, Oculus arrives in theaters.

On his 21st birthday, Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites / Garrett Ryan) is finally being released from the state mental hospital.  Eleven years ago, he shot and killed his father Alan (Rory Cochrane).  It's understandable since he had just watched his father shoot and kill his mother Marie (Katee Sackhoff).  It's needless to say that little Timmy was all screwed up for quite some time.  After eleven years of mental treatment, he's put his past behind him and is ready to enter the world as a functioning adult.  There's just one tiny issue.  Tim's older sister Kaylie (Karen Gilian / Annalise Basso) grew up in the same household and experienced the same horrors.  She just never had any treatment to help her overcome the bloody night that changed it all for the two of them.

Kaylie attends an auction with her fiancé Michael (James Lafferty).  There, she finds an antique mirror that her father once possessed.  After making plans to "borrow" the mirror, she goes to pick up Tim from the hospital.  She offers her younger brother a place to stay and gives him his share of their inheritance.  He takes the money but opts to stay at a hotel until he lands on his feet.  This is what he believes is best for his recovery, and he may be quite right.  With the mirror known as the Lasser Glass in her possession, Kaylie would like to take a stroll down memory lane with her brother.  She would like to exonerate Tim and their father for what took place on that bloody night some eleven years ago.  Most importantly, she would like to accomplish all this by proving that the mirror did it.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, I can't ever quite a time recall, when a piece of glass has taken the fall for murderously committing it bloody all.  There aren't too many movies where the antagonist is an inanimate piece of glass.  That being said, Oculus plays better than expected with a premise of this nature.  Surprisingly, it's the first genuinely creative horror movie of the year.  With director Mike Flanagan at the helm, we get a decently crafted thrill ride in which the line between illusion and reality is blurred.  We get a film that blends the past and present into one seamless, chilling tale.  We get a solid cast working in unison to bring Flanagan's nightmarish vision to life.  All in all, Oculus has quite a bit going for it thanks to Flanagan.

Still, we're talking about a movie for which the primary antagonist is a mirror.  It suffices to say that the premise is a bit undercooked.  However, I'm not just saying this because a mirror is the baddie.  If you look a little closer at the film, you'll see quite a few spots of dirt.  For instance, Tim and Kaylie pursue exposing this heinous mirror the Lasser Glass to the world by recording its activities in their house with all sorts of electronic equipment (i.e. laptops, cameras, and other monitoring devices).  Setting aside the fact that this mirror eats dogs and sucks the life out of plants, it can manipulate electronics.  With this in mind, there's no way in hell this killer mirror is going to expose itself in any way.  An effort of this nature is a total waste of time in every sense.  A little spot like this can completely undermine the film's premise for the reasonably intelligent moviegoer.

Oculus stands as the first halfway decent horror movie of the year.  Though it certainly has some gaps in the plot if you look closely enough, it's a solid April flick.  Oculus gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.