Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oculus (USA, 2014)

Nine Things about the Movie “Oculus” (USA, 2014)

1. This smart, dark film was quietly released in theaters with almost no publicity. It had only been seen at a couple of film festivals. The movie takes bits of “The Shining”, and mixes them into the cursed-object/haunted house genre.

2. This movie was obviously influenced by “Paranormal Activity”. But “Oculus” is a much more intelligent version.

3. It’s about a young man, Tim, who was sent to a mental institution because of a childhood trauma where his father tried to kill his family. Tim is released and goes to join his sister Kaylie.

4. Kaylie is convinced that what happened to their family is because of a demonic mirror that was hanging in their house. She tries to get Tim to help her face the demon and destroy it. But Tim is convinced that there was nothing supernatural going on. He believes that they were exposed to a real trauma, and that their minds converted it into a story of demons so they wouldn’t have to face the truth about their father.

5. Tim tries to humor Kaylie’s plan, and also to get her to understand she has false memories of the event. They spend the evening in the house with the mirror, and the movie begins to flip back and forth between the present night and the night of the trauma.

6. The movie weaves between present and past, the supernatural and psychological. It really plays with your mind so that you aren’t quite sure what’s going on and who to believe.

7. The movie is shot and acted very well, especially for an independent horror film. It has a great creepy and tense mood that ratchets itself up steadily, until the ending that made a lot of people in the audience (including me) gasp.

8. This movie does move much more slowly than other horror films, though. By adding in some actual science and psychology, some horror fans are going to find this movie slow and boring.

9. This is a thinking person’s horror film. If you like a plot that you can’t predict from the trailer, if you don’t need mindless jump scares every ten minutes, and are willing to expand your definition of a “horror” movie a little bit, this is a great piece of work.