I was legitimately surprised at how well this film used flashback and trickery to keep the movie tense the whole way through despite establishing from the beginning what we could expect. Disturbing moments, revelations, and the usual scares keep the pacing going strongly. The plot breaks down a tiny bi at the end before everything comes full circle, but that is also in line with how the mirror works.
Slightly elevated, moderately unsettling, yet completely forgettable. Mike Flanagan's short film of the same name was far more effective than this feature version. You can tell his hands were tied, being forced to appeal to a younger audience, applying the same character traits and actions from the short to the young leads in this film. It doesn't work but the story is layered enough to stay slightly interesting.
Refreshingly light on jump scares, Oculus instead uses really nice editing to join related stories in different time periods and evoke a more psychological than physical dread. It reminded me of puzzle films or "mind-benders" like Triangle and Coherence. It's strange, though, that imagery and motifs specific to the mirror aren't played up more; for most of the film, the possessed object could have been anything.
Despite the hype, I expected another typical ghost story in line with the recent trend of "throwback" horror. While the premise isn't all that original, it's presented in an extremely intelligent way that constantly and seamlessly shifts between past, present, real, and hallucination, and keeps you hooked from the time things start getting really crazy. It exceeded my expectations from start to finish.