Movie Review: Oculus


Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan

Rated R terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language, Running time 105 minutes, Horror

Compare to: Sinister (2012) Mama (2013)

The Slasher subgenre may have worn out its welcome being that there’s only so many moviegoers to cheer for a blade wielding madmen, it seems to have only fueled the supernatural route to Horror.

With good performances by all cast (This often feels rare in Horror) and a decent story, what’s wrong with the movie may be how the tale itself unfolds. You’ll see what I mean.

Kaylie and Tim witnessed something horrible as children. After their father murdered their mother, Tim was sent to a mental hospital and Kaylie to a foster home. Now adults, the brother and sister attempt to prove their innocence and that a possessed mirror was actually responsible for ruining their lives and the many lives of the owners before them. Proving their innocence will be difficult enough and surviving the night may be even harder.

No more wire hangers indeed!

No more wire hangers indeed!

All in all, just putting out there, Oculus isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not. Karen Gillan gives an especially fun performance as an woman that initially makes you question if she’s “just” obsessed or altogether insane. At the beginning of the film, I got the slight notion that if carried out properly, her character could be a hero of Horror we rarely see in the genre.

But in a strange twist of events, where Oculus begins to fall apart is when most Horror movies finally kick in. While others bore you with so-called suspense and intrigue as you simply just wait for the freaky stuff to pop up on screen, Oculus’ characters and backstory are what make you feel really involved with our heroine and her hesitant brother while the “scary” stuff leaves you wanting.

Is that Donnie Wahlberg? Will his ghost ever sleep?

Is that Donnie Wahlberg? Will his ghost ever sleep?

I won’t spoil anything here (That’s in the podcast) but when your villain’s entire MO is a series of fake scares that might be real (This time…but NEXT time!), you’re going to quickly lose any audience members that were engaged. After being dragged around by these tactics for so long, it didn’t dawn on me until the end of the movie that I hadn’t really cared what was going on for about thirty minutes or so.

With two Paranormal Activity movies out this year, it would have been nice for Oculus to break away from the beloved handheld way of shooting every low budget Horror movie and just give some good old fashioned scares.

But alas, we can’t always get what we want and the inverse of your average Horror film is presented here where the characters are likable and sympathetic while the scares are majorly lacking, made up of cats jumping around the corner as the main course.

"Is anybody there...? OH! Mr. Fluffy Ruffles, it's just you! Whew!" *Continue for an hour and a half.

“Is anybody there…? OH! Mr. Fluffy Ruffles, it’s just you! Whew!” *Continue for an hour and a half.*

Positives- Great acting, interesting plot, likable characters.

Negatives- It can’t be stressed enough that the FAKE SCARES are the antagonist’s ONLY scares. Third act falls apart slowly and predictably.

Grade: C



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