There is a lot of good suspense and some well thought out details to Oculus. In fact, my hopes were well raised by the opening 20 minutes. It starts strong and explains itself well. These are not a pair of naive idiots stepping into a house never having seen a ghost story before. I liked that.
But even with the clever story-telling and great casting of the older and younger selves of the characters, director/co-writer Flanagan and co-writer Howard allowed the story to devolve to where we expect rather than to keep challenging our expectations. A shame as they were very good at building both connection and tension with the main characters and told the story in an interesting way.
In the main role, Gillan (Doctor Who) really showed she could take on a new character and drop her accent. While Thwaites (Maleficent) is enjoying his own similar career breakout, this wasn’t a fabulous showcase for him either. The movie itself only allowed either of them some minor moments to shine. Amusingly, their younger selves, Basso and Ryan are both significantly more storied in their resumes than either of the adults and carry a good part of the movie.
This isn’t a horrible film, but it missed its chance to be something special. As standard fare, it serves up the meal you expect.