Oculus review

Mirror mirror on the wall, is this the most mind-bending fright flick of them all?

From Robert Hamer's entry in the classic portmanteau chiller Dead of Night to Kim Sung-ho's South Korean shocker Into the Mirror, the notion of a haunted mirror is one that just keeps cropping up in the horror genre. Writer-director Mike Flanagan is the latest to 'reflect' on the concept, with this smart and scary feature-length expansion of his 2006 short Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan.

Smarter than most mainstream frighteners, Flanagan's film succeeds by eschewing the usual trappings of the genre. Instead of cheap jump scares and gratuitous gore (not that there aren't a few nasty tricks up its sleeve), Oculus heads off in a much more creative direction; its narrative plays out across two time-lines that become increasingly entangled and confused as the story progresses. All the while, it builds towards a mind-bending and emotionally-shattering conclusion that finds the two main characters (played to perfection by Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) trying to work out whether what they're experiencing is real or simply a twisted reflection of a childhood trauma. Recommended.

Picture: Oculus features a suitably gloomy AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode. Colours are fairly muted for the most part, favouring Autumnal tones, although there are a couple of brightly-lit exterior scenes that have a little more pop. Thankfully, despite the overall darkness of the image, the bulk of the transfer exhibits excellent clarity and sharpness, ensuring close-ups are still packed with detailing.
Picture rating 4/5

Audio: While undoubtedly not as enveloping as the film's original 11-channel Auro mix (although we never heard that), there's a lot to enjoy about this Blu-ray's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Like any good horror film, the sonic engineers make frequent use of every speaker in the setup to create a palpably spooky atmosphere, while directional effects are delivered with precision. The subwoofer isn't left to sit idly by either, with rumbles of deep bass accompanying the majority of the film's scares.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: In a word: disappointing. The one saving grace is the inclusion of Flanagan's original short film (32 minutes), which makes for fascinating viewing in comparison with the feature version. Otherwise, the only other extras are the rather perfunctory Inside the Mirror: Creating Oculus featurette (10 minutes) and six deleted scenes (10 minutes).

Unfortunately, it appears that Warner either wasn't willing or able to include the chat-tracks for the feature film, the short and the deleted scenes that appeared on Fox's earlier US disc.
Extras: 1.5/5

We say: Extras may be in short supply, but on reflection Oculus is still a smart and scary Blu-ray chiller

Oculus, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £25 Approx