Sunday, 13 July 2014

Review: Oculus

(2014) Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff

After recently being released from a psychiatric ward for committing murder, Tim is reunited with his paranormal enthusiast sister Kaylie who vows on proving that his crimes were the work of supernatural forces. The plot centres around an antique mirror which was bought by the siblings mother (Katee Sackhoff), the mirror appears to be home to a malevolent spirit capable of controlling the actions of and projecting visions into those near to it. The film picks up fairly quickly after a brief backstory seen through a series of flashbacks. Karen Gillan played the role of a Sister on an unrelenting mission to clear her Brother's name and prove to him (and more so herself) that the mirror was hiding a sinister secret. The set up began with Kaylie rigging out the house where they grew up and the crime was committed with thermo sensors, cameras and an ingenious, if not a little unsettling 'killswitch'. The odds do not go in Kaylie's favour as an ever growing impatient Tim tries to persuade her she is completely deluded, but then no sooner than he is ready to leave the mirror begins to reveal it's powers...
I felt the film's main strength came from the elaborate ways that were thought up of in which the mirror could toy with the two protagonists. So many of the scenes and shock moments came from these things that would happen but the viewer wouldn't realise till moments later, this really made for some hand over mouth moments. There were no cheap jump scares as such just an unrelenting sense of suspense and the occasional red herring, the mirror started out in what the siblings would consider a 'controlled environment' but soon made them question everything around them including themselves. I loved the way the film never delved into what was inhabiting the mirror, no complex backstory. It was as if the director said 'it is what it is' and let the focus be on the human element. The acting was pretty solid overall although I did have trouble with Karen Gillan's American accent, maybe its my own fault for be critical due to watching so many episodes of  Dr Who! This film was definitely one of the more intelligent mainstream horrors to hit cinemas this year and was a breath of fresh air due to it's constant air of suspense and satisfying payoff.

The verdict

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Oculus, it genuinely felt like an intelligent horror movie that had been made with attention to detail and care. A few accent gripes and 'its behind you' moments aside I can hand on heart say this film scared me, which is ultimately the goal of a horror film. It succeeds in telling a gripping ghost story and where many films has fallen off at the halfway point Oculus remains a terrifying and suspenseful ordeal throughout its runtime. As a parting note all I wll say is there is one particular scene, in which I will simply refer to as 'the light bulb scene' that will stay with me for many nights after watching this gem!


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