Movie Review: Oculus
Prinz Lee wrote this review 2 years and 10 months ago
A bit slow at first, but once it takes off...this creepy, freakish, fright-flick does what it needs to do!
I know what you’re thinking: Oh, just another movie based on a mirror taking over a bunch of souls. Well, yes and no. Unlike other films where mirrors serve as portals to fantasy or horror, Mike Flanagan’s OCULUS is more than just that!
Originally a short of the same title back in ’05, its extended feature spans on a time-line of years that focuses on the Russell family. Leaving teenage siblings Tim (Garrett Ryan) and Kaylie (Analise Basso) to fend for themselves, Tim’s convicted for the brutal murders of their parents. Now as young adults, Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is released from protective custody and simply wants to move on with life; but Kaylie (Karen Gillan), still haunted by that horrid night, is passionately convinced their parents' murders were caused by something else: a vicious supernatural force unleashed through the Lasser Glass, an antique mirror in their childhood home. Severely determined to expose Tim's innocence, Kaylie tracks down the mirror, only to find out similar deaths have been experienced by previous owners over a century. With the mysterious entity now back in their lives, Tim and Kaylie soon find their hold on reality by terrifying hallucinations exposing them to relive their childhood nightmare!
In a crafty, brilliant way, the team of director (Mike Flanagan) and director-of-photography (Michael Fimognari) present one of the best in contemporary horror filmmaking. Running connected stories with pizzazz, confidence, and a good amount of scares, OCULUS has the hardened potential to be one of the year’s most interesting films. Presented in a style that may come off a bit “indie-like,” its darkened, grungy look does more than generate a feeling of stylistic, horrifying insecurity. The arc of intensity this film generates as well had to be one of the best I’ve seen as of late.
Jumping between two stories in a fashion that didn’t seem off, the film is also edited very well. Linking past and present is one of the film’s biggest and strongest appeals as we get to learn more about the family. Edgy and insane when exposing kids at their most vulnerable, to the psychological struggles of adults who seem to have a hard time coping with their uncovering as the film plays along, what elevates this film a lot as well is its twisted writing and cast. Strong and firm, each character (including the kids) lived up to what the film was supposed to convey: a family way beyond horrid distress. With interesting dialog throughout the run, as a whole this well-paced, performed and exposed piece is solid.
But there is a “gripe.” OCULUS’ downfall I think comes from the fact (unless I missed it) that there isn’t any backstory pertaining to the malicious mirror itself. How it became. It’s a possessed, killer mirror. Fine, I get it. However, it did feel a little out of place NOT knowing what causes this inanimate object to be what it is. Now, does it hurt the film? Well, maybe to a very small degree, but with so much being presented, as OCULUS gradually picks up, its mind-fuck affects, story and sharp scares (I will not give away) tends to keep you focused more on the protagonists' survival, rather than the antagonist’s spooky origins.
Coming off quite enjoyable and fresh, OCULUS holds its own well and deserves lots of horrifying respect. With recent horror goodies like THE CONJURING, one of the best elements this piece provides is its psychological power. I’ve always said gore isn’t enough to make up a good horror. Getting into one’s brain and rattling it with twists is what causes the shivers. And with a lot of it, OCULUS will go down as one of my (and possibly your) contemporary favorites!
Grade: B / Genre: Horror / Rated: R / Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Analise Basso, Garrett Ryan, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane
Directed by: Mike Flanagan