Oculus: Or How To Disappoint An Audience In 2 Hours

Oculus 2

I was really looking forward to Oculus. When I first saw the trailer I thought it looked decent. Then I remembered WWE Studios hasn’t really made any spectacular movies. The ones they have made that were decent, however are horror movies (See No Evil, No One Lives). Unfortunately Oculus wasn’t one of them. Thankfully my hopes were already lowered when I noticed the words “From the producers of Paranormal Activity” on the poster in the theater. Spoilers ahead, folks.

The film opens with 21 year old Tim “Timbo” Russel (played by Brenton Thwaites) being released from a mental facility. Apparently he was in there for something that happened ten years prior. He reconnects with his sister Kaylie Russell (played by Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan) who is now 23 (I’m not buying it) and an antiques dealer assistant(?) I’m not exactly sure what her job was but she finds and apprehends a mirror from their childhood. A mirror that seems to be linked to many mysterious deaths. Ten years prior this mirror caused their parents to go crazy. The mother begins to believe the father is cheating. She thinks this after young Kaylie mentions seeing a woman in his office (yea you guessed it a ghost!) The father spends ever increasing time in his office slowly going insane (think “The Shining”)  ending with little Tim saving his sister by shooting his father, who seemed to come back to his senses long enough to tell him to do it. Now we know why Tim was sent to the mental facility. Kaylie has set up the mirror again in their childhood home, and has set up an “experiment”. Lots of video cameras to document phenomena (Jeez can these guys get a new schtick. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was watching Paranormal Activity 5, or are they at 6 now? Anyway plants die unexpectedly (yea so terrifying!) They see a few ghosts, and their childhood dog. It all leads up to a very predictable ending which I won’t spoil.

The ghosts are creepy, and there a few cringe worthy moments. One involves a staple remover, and another involves a light bulb. The acting was good, but it just didn’t feel like anything new.  The atmosphere is generally creepy as you would expect from a ghost movie. It’s also worth noting apparently this movie started as a short film (Oculus chapter 3: The Mirror. Please god don’t let there be a sequel.) We never get to find out the motives of the ghosts as is typical for these kinds of movies. Is there another world on the other side of the mirror? We will never know (unless there IS a sequel, maybe). All in all Oculus was a decent enough movie, but nothing special. Surely it’s not “Deeply terrifying” as Stephen King was quoted as saying. If you still want to see Oculus after reading this, I suggest waiting for Red box or Netflix. Oculus is worth a one time watch, but not worth owning or paying full theater price for. I give it 2.5 stars out of 5. Karen Gillan fans don’t feel too bad, she has a blockbuster on her hands this August when “Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theaters.

Tags: 2014 Karen Gillan Oculus WWE Studios

  • Alex Edwards

    Forgive me for saying so, but it sounds very much as though the author of this article wants to have the storyline of this movie spoon fed to him, and that just isn’t the case with this film. At least, not in terms of an explanation of the film’s antagonist (yes, a mirror). I believe that Stephen King (famous for writing stories that themselves are build on compelling backstory) nailed it with his comment, quoted previously in the article. The story is what is terrifying. The deep and powerful evil of the mirror is mesmerizing in its own right. The beauty of this story is that it will leave wondering about what might be motivating these evil forces. There is never any indication of world behind the looking glass, but neither is their any indication to the contrary. Using your imagination to fill in what the author of the article feels are gaps is half the fun with this movie. Which is great, because you can leave the theatre still thinking about it, rather than walking out feeling as though the story had been forced down your throat. All in all, a very decent horror film.

    To criticize the author’s criticisms a bit, this movie plays on something that is becoming more of a trend recently (which I wholeheartedly support): using dread in place of gore, and using darkness in place of flash. Criticizing the film for its use of atmospheric elements such as the plants dying seems like a stretch, and like immature writing. Also, comparing this movie to the knuckle-dragging Paranormal series is asinine at best. Yes, there were cameras in the movie, which end up being a pivotal piece of the message: that this evil is so overwhelming, that not even our technology, given every advantage, can even begin to help protect you from it.
    I give this article a decent 3 out of 5. I’m generous.

  • Jesse Gooby Buenger

    I feel the COMPLETE opposite as you, I found the film fresh and intriguing, you’re also watching it for the wrong reasons. Oculus isn’t a movie to watch for ‘the scares.’ its a movie you watch for the plot/mystery of the mirror, and the psychological aspects of people’s mental states slowly degrading from the effects of the mirror. The acting was great, in all honesty the children actors were substantially better than their adult counterparts, which is impressive, as they weren’t bad actors. Also, just because this movie had cameras in it its like Paranormal Activity? That’s like the way a kindergartner would think. The movies are like NOTHING alike, Paranormal Activity (the series as a whole) BLOWS.

    It seems like people seem to forget there’s so many more aspects to horror movies than just “being scared.” Horror movies can be just as enchanting, saddening, mysterious, happy or even funny as they can be horrifying. Some of the best horror movies I’ve seen made me forget I was even watching a horror movie, then BAM!

    Atmosphere, Plot, Tension, Anxiety, Imagination (etc like darkness, the dark is only scary because of what our imaginations think up.), Psychology, Empathy (Empathizing with the victim and putting yourself in their place. Until you can do this you will never be able to enjoy a horror movie to its full extent.) and many more… these the things that make horror work, every person is more sensitive to one or the other, which correlates with different ‘types’ of fear. One person might find gore/disturbing images scary, while another finds simply being in a dark room scary cause of a combination of imagination and anxiety. There may be somebody who doesn’t even find movies scary, but becomes uncomfortable due to relations to an event or person in the movie, Psychology/Empathy.

  • Miranda

    I agree , but you gave it way to high of a rating if they make another God help me i’m going outside the movie theaters and protesting against people waisting money on it. I am scared of mirrors because it shows me my face not because ghosts live in it and the ending SUCKED. Rating is 0 out of 10.