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Oculus ***

Is it worth $10? Yes

Low budget horror films usually carry a stigma of substandard quality. That's not the case with the creepy, inventive “Oculus.” It’s a slow burn to get started, but once we get to the meat of the story, the scare fest keeps you riveted.

Tim (Brenton Thwaits) gets released from a long stay at a mental asylum, when he meets up with his older sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan). Little does he know his beloved sister wants to recruit him to finish what he'd left in the past, and prove the innocence of him and a long line of others. Kaylie wants to prove that a possessed antique mirror is the cause of many deaths and her ultimate goal is to destroy the cursed object. However, the mirror and its inhabitants are not willing to go without a fight.

The first twenty minutes are pretty slow, but it's a necessary set up to the chaos that comes later. Karen Gillan, famous from her role in the "Doctor Who” television series, is very likable and does well in the lead. Brenton’s Tim doesn’t stand out as much, but has a few intense scenes. Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochcrane, who play the parents of the children, are also satisfactory in their screen time. But the best character is really the young Kaylie, played by Annalise Basso, who exudes an extraordinary amount of strength and emotion in her part of the story.

The scares are good, but nothing mold breaking. The story and filming take an interesting approach with the way the flashbacks and flash-forwards tie in the past events with the current situation. At times you wonder if the haunted mirror is playing tricks with Kaylie and Tim or if reality is being turned on its ear.

The film is based on the short “Oculus” by director Mike Flanagan, and it feels a little like this version is stretched out a bit; but it does offer a good deal of character development and more history of the mirror.

Even with its low budget, “Oculus” still manages to use its money wisely with limited, yet effective, special effects and not being overly gory just for the sake of blood. Yes, some scares will be familiar, but the package they are being delivered in feels appropriate.

If you are looking for an above average horror/thriller than take a deep long look at “Oculus,” but beware . . . it just may look back.

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