Oculus: Is It Worth Your Money

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Production CO: Intrepid Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, WWE Studios
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff

Official Synopsis: Ten years ago Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) shot his father (Rory Cochrane) after he witnessed him killing his mother (Katee Sackhoff). He’s sent to a mental hospital because of the shooting, but also because he believed that his parents’ deaths were due to an evil, supernatural entity that possessed an antique mirror in their home. This leaves his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) to face life alone until, years later, Tim is finally released. All he wants to do is move on from that fateful night, but in his absence Kaylie has become convinced that the mirror is indeed possessed, as she has discovered that the mirror’s previous owners throughout the centuries have had similarly bloody pasts. Kaylie is determined to prove that the mirror is responsible for the murders as opposed to Tim or her father.

oculus, noun

(Latin: “eye”) In architecture, any of several elements resembling an eye, such as a round or oval window.

Do you see?

Ok, so right off the bat Oculus is not worth your money. Not your first run, ten-plus-dollar-a-person money. Don’t click the back button just yet though. This review is not over by any means. Oculus wasn’t an awful movie. While flawed, it wasn’t without merit. I’d say it’s worth a second run viewing, or a late night Redbox compulsive pickup at least.

So where did Oculus go wrong? Buried under the constant homages to the holy grail of lazy ghost stories (Paranormal Activity), are scraps of decent script. Every once in awhile you get glimpses of a good story. Possibly under different production this movie could have been worth your money. I mean, the WWE isn’t known for cinematic gold. Especially when it comes to their horror films.

Oculus got a tad confusing at times. Part of this was by design in an attempt to create anxiety. Most of it however, was due to unskillfully jump cutting between two timelines. The first timeline focused on Tim and Kaylie in present day; following the siblings as they try to collect concrete proof that the mirror is evil.  The second timeline is the backstory of why the siblings want to exact vengeance on what should seemingly be an inanimate object. The two plots start to intertwine so much they begin to overlap. Neither of the plots really seem to dominate over the other, although I would have liked to see more of the backstory and less of the present day plot.

What did Oculus do right? Let’s start with the subtleties of the film. This movie is filled with little bits of building grotesqueness, and unnerving plot devices that keep you guessing what is “real” and what is the characters hallucinations. While not giving too much away… I must say the ending of this movie made me relatively happy. It’s the type of ending I love to see in a film. And while it might have left it open for a completely unnecessary sequel, I was able to enjoy it nonetheless.

In my opinion this movie isn’t very good. Not worth the money to see it in theaters, but not completely worth dismissing. Chances are if you enjoy movies like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, or The Conjuring you’ll really enjoy this movie. So depending on your taste—it may be worth your money.

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