If you’re looking for a great movie to watch to get into the Halloween spirit, I highly recommend Oculus! This movie definitely is a horror movie though, so viewer discretion and all that jazz BUT it’s a well done horror movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat I would say MOST of the way through. It’s not without its slight flaws, however.
About: The story is about a brother and a sister who, ten years ago from the present day, moved into a new home. Yes, of course, it’s not without it’s horror cliches here. Regardless, they move into a new home with their parents. Once moving into the new home, things went horribly wrong leaving the two orphans. All we know going into the beginning of the movie is that the youngest, the brother, was sent to a mental institution after the fact and has been there ever since, while the sister has moved on with her life up until that point. At least, it seems that way. The truth is that the sister has been tracking down an antique mirror that she suspects is the real culprit behind the deaths. With a run time of 1 hour and 45 minutes, it’s not an overly long feature and has received mostly positive reviews, including a score of 73% from Rotten Tomatoes.
WARNING! Potential spoilers ahead!
The Plot/Characters: One of the things that I enjoyed about Oculus was the plot. While not incredibly original in a lot of ways, it was spooky. The fact that the two main characters were affected by a mirror set out to kill the inhabitants of the home in gruesome ways not only in their childhood but also are affected by it ten years later is really interesting. Basically, the movie starts out with the two siblings reuniting after the brother is released from a mental institution. While he is now considered to be opening a new page in his life and moving on from the trauma of watching his mother die and shooting his father, it turns out that his sister has not let the matter go. She is not ready to move on and is, in fact, obsessed with tracking down an antique mirror that she believes was the real culprit behind the murders. Tim, the brother, is pulled back into confronting the past he’s been trying to move on from as Kaylie gets him involved in attempting to prove that the mirror is really behind everything. Her obsession is hinted out but proven strong when Tim sees what lengths she has gone through in order to set up a stage to not only prove the mirror was behind it all, but also rigged the old house they lived in to destroy the mirror if things go wrong. All in all, it takes some horror cliches, adds a lot of human elements to it and then begins to work its magic relying on dread and a plot build up that slowly reveals what truly happened ten years ago while flipping back and forth between the present and the past. Overall, the acting is also good, leading to suspenseful moments and lines delivered perfectly. The only problem that I had with the entire plot, really, was the ending. The movie builds itself up, leads to the climax and then delivers a big let down, in my opinion, when it uses a cheaper move to wrap it all up.
Scares: Overall, this movie relies less on gore to deliver a scare than than a lot of horror movies I have watched, while still using it to terrify you and give you nightmare inducing images. First of all, Oculus starts out simply messing with your head and the main character Kaylie. All along, the movie spends its time building up the scares. At first it relies mainly on creepy imagery or jumpscares to get the point across, but then it slowly shifts over to messing with your mind, building up a sense of dread around everything and then begins to have snippets where gore is utilized to get the point across. The gore that it does use, however, I would argue is less about the blood than the surrounding circumstances. For instance, there is a scene where the main character picks up an apple, bites into it, only for it to turn out she picked up and bit the light bulb she had set on the table next to it. The image is actually a fake out, something that the mirror shows her, but the scene is one of the most impactful moments of the movie and leaves a lasting impression. Even now, remembering it, my mouth feels strange and tastes like copper a bit… Mainly, the movie relies on showing you things and then pulling the rug out from under you. You never know what is real or what is fake, giving you a sense of dread the entire way through. It also flips back and forth between present and past which is confusing, but not overly done so it really serves to mess with your mind without derailing the movie entirely.
The Monsters: The ghosts/monsters in this movie seem to like to spend their time messing with the characters involved, rather than just outright killing them. That’s terrifying in a lot of ways. In fact, what’s the creepiest part about the movie is that you don’t know what is behind the mirror right away. In fact, you really don’t get a good feel for the extent of the evil that is behind the mirror until the very end or the extent of its power.
The Score and Atmosphere: Oculus does a good job of building up a sense of dread using the music. While it’s not the most memorable OST in the entire world, nor all that distinguishable from the rest of the horror genre, its used in the right manner to give you that “unsettled” feeling which really adds to what the movie is attempting to do.
Overall: I absolutely loved this movie. It was more than what I was expecting it to be and set out to be a horror movie that was not a slasher or a cheap cop out. In fact, it tries its very best to be suspenseful and to deliver some real terror to the viewer. I think that it succeeds in messing with the viewers mind and really gives you that lasting feeling of dread through the good characters, interesting twist on a known horror cliche and decent OST. My only real issue with the movie is the very end, in which it ends the movie abruptly after leading it up until a dramatic climax. To sum it all up… Don’t watch this one with the lights off or you might not get any sleep that night!
Have you seen Oculus yet? If so, what did you think?