How many of you have heard of the movie Oculus? Until Tuesday, I had not. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have cable and never see commercials. I started hearing good things, it got a 71% on rottentomatoes.com, no easy task for a horror film, so I checked it out with some friends.
Oculus stars Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galatica, Riddick), and Rory Cochrane (CSI: Miami, Dazed and Confused). These four make up the Miller family, a family struck by tragedy when their kids were young.
The acting in this movie was good by horror movie standards. Sackhoff and Cochrane do a great job transitioning from sympathetic parents to creepy tormented adults. The characters felt believable and not one-dimensional as is often the case. Even the child actors Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan did a fantastic job in their role as young Kaylie and Tim. I bought the backstory. I was on board with the mission and was rooting for their success. Gillan and Thwaites were the stars of this movie; it was Gillan’s mission to destroy the mirror and clear their fathers name.
Is Oculus’ story innovative and original? No. However, it is the execution of the story that makes it such a satisfying, confusing and suspenseful ride.
I’m a fan of the horror genre. There is something about that suspenseful, adrenaline-filled feeling that I enjoy. However, I’m very selective with horror movies. I don’t enjoy tons of gore which can obviously stop me watching a lot of movies. I’m more a fan of suspenseful, psychological scary movies, movies that make my skin crawl. Why? I’m not sure. Oculus fits more into this category.
The premise is simple: there is a haunted mirror that influences its owners to kill. This mirror must be destroyed. The beginning of this movie sets this up nicely through interesting, sometimes cumbersome dialogue between Kaylie and Tim. However, the parallel stories throughout the movie combining past and future events are what make this story shine. The second half of this movie is unrelenting assault on reality coalescing in a satisfying yet frustrating climax. The director, Mike Flanagan, switches between parallel story lines with such ease you have little time to catch up. What that means is you will leave the theater asking questions. With so many forgettable movies being released, a movie that causes me to process and ask questions as I leave is a good thing.
On Tuesday I had never heard of Oculus; by Saturday I was glad I had seen it. If you’re a fan of psychological horror you will probably enjoy this movie. If you’re not a fan of horror or physiological films stay away from this movie. Though there is not a lot of gore compared to movies such as Saw or Evil Dead, there is enough cringe worthy stuff that you should stay away from this if that affects you.
Have you seen this movie? Had you heard of it? What are your thoughts on watching horror movies? We’d love to hear from you.