Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Oculus

Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 104 minutes

In the beginning, I was a little hesitant to see this movie. Horror movies have been struggling along in quality for a few years lately with a few shining gems in the theaters like The Conjuring and Sinister. So, does Oculus fall under those rare shining gems or does it continue to contribute to the downfall of the genre?

After being released from a mental institution, Tim Russell reunites with his sister Kaylie and return to their childhood home. Kaylie reveals that she had purchased an antique mirror that was once in their father's office and explains a theory that there's something unusual about it leading to the cause of Tim's childhood trauma. Tim is skeptical as they retrace fragment memories of their family's tragic past.

Due to an entertaining conversation with awesome people, I missed the first 15 minutes of the movie, but it fortunately didn't alter my experience. Also I would like to add that I never go into a horror movie to be scared. I go for the entertainment value like any other movie and I must say...I was entertained. Despite the whole evil mirror concept being done before, the execution was unique and engaging. It may be confusing upon first viewing with its parallel structure, but I think that it adds to its replay value, despite knowing the conclusion. The editing and structure is something I really enjoyed and commend. It paralleled and intertwined the main characters' past and present while expanding and developing them. It also made the concept more interesting. I also enjoyed the small cast. They were very believable actors and made me feel something for them. I miss rooting for the protagonist and feeling sadness when things go wrong. Lastly, the suspense was very satisfying. Not only did it have well executed build-up, it also gave an equal pay off for sitting on the edge of your seat. From time to time there was a good feeling of deception. Did what I see really happen or is it an illusion?

There are a lot of good things working for this movie, but there are a few flaws that I can't completely ignore. Since there is a small cast of characters in this movie, it is important to establish them enough for you to care about them and it does successfully accomplish this factor with the main characters that are part of the family, but I would've wished to see more of an interaction or relationship between Kaylie and her husband. I don't know if this is shown in that beginning 15 minutes that I missed, but it seems like his character is completely thrown in there for the sake of showing that Kaylie and Tim have contrasting futures from their unfortunate childhoods. Another small complaint I have with the movie is the reveal of the "monster". I thought the movie could've prolonged the reveal a little longer and when we do see it, it's a little disappointing. I also thought there were a few predictable moments, but I believe these flaws are made up by the structure and execution of the story being told.

I could be wrong, but from my perspective it doesn't seem like many people have gone out to see this movie which is quite a shame. Pushing all flaws aside, Oculus is a fresh movie for the horror genre and presents a unique and brave storytelling structure with parallel time frames. The small cast of characters gives the audience a better opportunity to connect and emote together throughout the movie. More importantly, the suspenseful moments and pay off are very satisfying.

Rating: 3.5/5

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