May 29, 2014

Theatrical Review: Oculus (2014)
Despite being Rated R, we were fully expecting Oculus to be another in the long line of disappointing PG-13-like efforts that Hollywood loves to churn out on a regular basis.

Let's face it: most Hollywood produced Horror flicks end up being bland, cheesy, paint-by-number dreck that no one really likes, but that turn just enough profit for Studios to continue to make them.

Add to that stigma the fact that this is partly a WWE Studios production, and we had very little hope for this movie to be anything but shit. I mean have you seen most of the WWE's movie ventures? With a few exceptions, most of them feel like C-Grade action flicks.

Turns out though that Oculus was a pretty solid effort that hit most of the marks that it was aiming for. Maybe it was Blumhouse's involvement; they do have a pretty solid track record (about 60/40 in our book) over the past few years for turning out good movies.

The two main plotlines in Oculus involve siblings Tim and Kaylie, and are split between two different time periods: present day, and 11 years earlier. They both unfold simultaneously via flashback, and at one point we're pretty sure that they even intersected, but we were drunk, so who can truly say.

The film opens in the past, where older Tim levels a gun at younger Tim and Kaylie, and pulls the trigger. Yes, older Tim and younger Tim were in the same room at the same time. We're sure it will all be explained later on in the movie.

"Don't taze shoot me, bro!"
In present day, older Tim is being released from the nuthouse, presumably after being cured of whatever made him shoot his sister; and older Kaylie, whom he didn't apparently shoot at all, is buying a mirror from the "Levesque" estate (nice cheesy Triple H reference, WWE) at a auction. Kaylie has been obsessed with the Triple H mirror since it killed her parents 11 years earlier...

That is not what we meant when we said "send us nudes."
But wait, why was Tim locked away then? Because he shot his Dad, who killed his Mom at the urging of some creepy whore who lives in the mirror, even though at the beginning of the movie it was his Sister that he was pointing the gun at...

And we're already confused.

Look closely: his hand looks like an evil face. (We're still drunk, apparently.)
Anywho, it's the Triple H mirror that killed their parents and caused Tim to be committed for so long, because it's evil and needs souls or something. Kaylie spent the 11 years since the murders researching the Triple H mirror, and discovered that everyone who has owned it has either disappeared or died painfully. Also, it eats dogs.

Also, WTF is that!?!
From here on out, the movie jumps back and forth between the past and present, showing us how the events of Tim and Kaylie's lives play out in both timelines. It all began to make perfect sense once we realized that the mirror was fucking with us as much as it was the characters, because we got to a point where we weren't sure what was real and what wasn't, and were about as clueless (and helpless) as the characters in the movie were. Bravo, Triple H mirror.

You're doing it wrong.
Oculus is a movie that will mess with your mind far more than it will scare you. Don't get us wrong, there are plenty of eerie moments in this movie, and a few tense scenes that will have you on edge, but for the most part, it plays out more like a mystery than it does a pure Horror flick. All the same, Oculus is a creepy ghost story that kept us guessing for its entire runtime.

We'd still hug her.
As clever and engaging as the plot was, it was the cast that truly held the movie together. Karen Gillan was great as Kaylie. With some of us never having never seen Dr. Who before (not my bag, baby), this was our first exposure to her, and we were impressed. Same goes for Brenton Thwaites; new to us, but we were definitely impressed us with his chops. We've been fans of Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane since forever, so it's always good to see them in anything new.

Annalise Basso deserves a lot of credit here too. She played young Kaylie with talent beyond her years, and she might just have been the most impressive one in the cast. We'll no doubt be seeing more of her in the future.
That mirror is scandalous!
The biggest issue that most people are going to have with this movie is that it's confusing. Not only do the timelines jump back and forth (and even intersect), but the film doesn't always play by its own rules. ***SPOILERS*** For instance: the mirror is really hard to crack/break, but when the kid shoots his dad, the dad's body flying into the mirror was enough to crack it. Alright, but why then didn't the weighted anchor crack it when it impaled "someone" right up against it. Two bodies being thrown against the mirror, and only one time does it crack. ***SPOILERS***

Once you get wise to what the mirror is, and what it's doing though, the confusion will lessen considerably, so just tough it out until then.

But why did it crack?
The ending also left us a bit underwhelmed. You almost knew it had to end the way that it did, but it left us feeling cold and unsatisfied all the same. I don't know exactly what we were expecting, but it was something more than what we got. Maybe it's just us.

You're still doing it wrong!
Oculus is a genuinely creepy movie that takes its time, establishes one hell of a backstory, and delivers a compelling ghost story filled with characters that are easy to root for. You'll be on the edge of your seat during much of this one, unless of course your overly-cynical or don't have a pulse, and even then...

The bottom line is that Oculus is well worth spending 100 minutes of your time on.

Oculus is still in some Theaters now, and will be hitting Blu-ray, DVD & VOD sometime in August.


Fanboy faves Karen Gillan (the fiery ginger from Dr. Who), and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck!) acted their asses of in this one. Karen Gillan has now proven that she can carry a movie all by herself, so we imagine that she'll be doing more of that soon enough. She needs to be a Bond Girl/Sexy Bond Villainess. That would be money in the bank.


  1. Nice review. I enjoyed this one as well. Better than the usual theatrical horror flicks we've been seeing of late.

    You should check out the director's first film "absentia" It's a decidedly more low budget flick than oculus, but I thought it was pretty good. Had a nice creepy vibe throughout and a somewhat original premise.

  2. Great review. I also loved it. It is genuinely creepy, as you said. And I like that it's environmental horror to a degree. And mirrors creep me out as is lol

  3. I like Karen Gillan, think she's a great actress, but hated her character in Dr Who. Looking forward to watching this though.

  4. On point review. I've been looking forward to this because Michael Flanagan proved in 'Absentia' that he had an original mind, worked well with actors and knew how to use a camera.

    I am in total agreement about the acting and wish the ending might have been different but the Karen Gillan character was just too sure of herself and had to be brought low.

    Two other things I enjoyed: 1. Everything that happens has two explanations; the supernatural and the rational. The movie could be explained as a tragedy caused by Katie's psychotic paranoia. 2. Everything is not laid out and explained. For example, what were the husband and 'that lady' doing in the study?

  5. great review. i agree totally about the ending too...however , i was thoroughly on edge the whole movie. as ive written before , my love of horror movies came late , it was with the foreign version of "let the right one in" i keep coming back to that movie because it surprised wasnt what i expected and of course , the ending was just amazing .

    oculus was worth watching - thanks for recommending.

  6. "***SPOILERS*** For instance: the mirror is really hard to crack/break, but when the kid shoots his dad, the dad's body flying into the mirror was enough to crack it. Alright, but why then didn't the weighted anchor crack it when it impaled "someone" right up against it. Two bodies being thrown against the mirror, and only one time does it crack. ***SPOILERS***"

    This is easily explained if you pay attention really closely. The only reason the mirrow was cracked when the dad was shot was because it wasn't expecting it and couldn't defend itself like usual. When that someone was impaled, the mirror made it happen and was expecting it. Plus, the dad was thrown way harder towards the mirror than that someone, who was standing right in front of it and softened the blow.