Dual Review: Oculus

Well two Bastards had a chance to sit down with the Relativity, WWE and Fox’s latest home release Oculus. Their thoughts are below, but first he’s what the film is about: Seeing is deceiving in this disturbingly original horror flick that reflects heart-stopping terror as you’ve never imagined! It’s been ten years since the lives of siblings Tim (Brenton Thwaites; Maleficent) and Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan; “Doctor Who”) were shattered and Tim was convicted of murdering their parents. Now released from a mental institution, Tim wants to move on, but his sister has other plans. Kaylie blames their childhood nightmare on the Lasser Glass—an antique mirror with a grisly history—which she intends to destroy by any means possible, even as the mysterious entity continues to cast sinister spells on anyone who gazes into it.

Kevin: 4/5

There were two things that drew me to Oculus. First I love horror movies and second was Katee Sackhoff. I’m a fan of her look and work and to see her in a horror movie was all I needed, even though she was all “momed-up”.

As for the horror/thriller aspects Oculus knows exactly what it is and what it is trying do. It’s a simple narrative about a haunted mirror that has wrecked generations of families. Now a brother and sister form a tag team to get revenge and destroy the mirror due to their family being victimized. It’s a simple tale that for 90% of the movies stays in one location, the house. The sister has a contingency plan that’s believable and all they have to do is keep their wits about them and destroy the mirror.

OculusIt’s a difficult task for a writer to keep the narrative in one location and keeping it interesting. If done poorly it can be hard for the audience to endure and hurt the experience. Oculus keeps that in mind by using the siblings’ past experiences as a point to jump to keep things fresh. Which works as builds the relationship of the protagonists. If you want to see the one location narrative done well, check out one of my favorite movies 2DLK. They did one location perfectly.

The other intricate piece to have in this kind of narrative is the performances. All of which were very well done. Karen Gillan steals the show as she cuts a monologue about the mirror and gives exposition the whole time. It was fast and seamless but most of all it worked to catch the audience up on things while it showed her passion for the defeating the mirror.  The other stand out performances where from the children played by Garrett Ryan as young Tim and Annalise Basso as young Kaylie. The reason I give them a nod for doing a good job is because they are kid actors and everyone knows that kid actors suck. These children did not…too much.

Oculus has some very interesting moments and controls its pace very well. It uses a gimmick of a haunted mirror in satisfying way and keeps things fun as the two siblings’ battle to figure out what’s real as they attempt to outlast the horror. At the end of the day Oculus is worth a viewing.

Oh and hit me up if you want to hear me pitch a sequel!

Dustin: 4/5

I had a similar reason for wanting to check out this movie, but while Kevin was all about Sackhoff, I was all about the former Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan making what I believe is her American film debut. One thing I’ll say is that you could hear her fighting back her Scottish accent and really I wanted to hear her let it rip.

What I really enjoyed about this film was that it was a visual delight. The camera angles not only brought a sense of terror, but at times they just presented a beautifully laid out scene. The great thing about the mirror was that it allowed the story to do a ton of creepy things that were all within the realm of possibility. All-in-all it looked like director Mike Flanagan wanted the mirror to come across as a living thing and he succeeded in doing just that.

The monologue in the house is definitely one of the best parts of the film. It gives you hope for the characters, but the movie doesn’t stumble here. It wastes no time destroying that plan and doesn’t use it as safety net like other horror movies tend to do. What's even better is that the plan is sound, which goes to show just how dangerous the mirror is.

I really enjoyed this movie. The ending was a bit of a “fuck you”, but it worked and they earned the right to do that. If there was a sequel I would definitely check it out, but it would need as powerful of a cast of actors as this film had. As great as it was visually, the actors carry the film tremendously.

Director: Mike Flanagan Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard Studio: Relativity, WWE, Fox Run Tim: 105 Mins Release Date: 8/5/14