Oculus: Overrated or just misunderstood?

A spoiler free review of the 2014 film Oculus.

After watching Absentia, I was looking forward to Oculus for quite a long time. Absentia had this way of creating this slow-burning, creepy atmosphere that really gave you goosebumps. It was an unique film in a sense as well– the concept of the tunnel was interesting and unexpected. I was curious to see what else the director had in his pocket.

Oculus begins with a flashback or dream, of a brother and sister being terrorized by their own father. The son shoots the dad and then we’re back to the present day. Turns out, the brother is being released from the institution he was in for the crime and his sister was on her way to pick him up. She just had an agenda of her own to do first, the purchasing of an old, expensive mirror.

The daughter Kaylie is played by Karen Gillan(Doctor Who) in the present day while the son Tim is played by Brenton Thwaites(Home and Away). Throughout the film, it flashes back and fourth between the present day when they are adults to the past where they are kids. After Tim is released Kaylie informs him she has the dreaded mirror that haunted their childhood and possessed their family. Tim is very apprehensive to hear this, and sounds like he doesn’t believe in it anymore.

We later find out, Kaylie’s plan is to destroy the mirror, but first be able to prove on camera that is really is haunted or evil. She takes the mirror back to her childhood home, where her parents were murdered eleven years ago. When Kaylie describes to the cameras what she knows about the mirror and it’s history, and how she will out-beat it.. I began to think this movie was going to be very different. Most leading horror gals aren’t as smart or “prepared” as she made herself out to be.

As the mirror starts to take a familiar hold on Kaylie and her unsuspecting brother Tim, the line between what’s real and what’s not is blurred. I won’t give away many more details but will say this movie had the most predictable ending I have seen in a while. It actually pissed me off that it would end so obviously.

However, I will say I found the movie to not be as bad as many people made it out to be. I was expecting much worse going into the film. It still kept me interested, entertained and a couple scenes did genuinely creep me out. The previews made Oculus out to be something else, almost like a haunted house film. I think if they would have been more honest in the trailers, and focused more on the mirror and Kaylie’s camera objective, fans wouldn’t have been as disappointed.

The difference between Oculus and Absentia is very wide.. some of the imagery was alike but otherwise the tone, and the pacing of the films were very different. While this one had it’s creepy moments it was nowhere near as scary as the director’s first horror film. However, I am not giving up hope quite yet. Director Mike Flanagan is working on his next film entitled “Somnia” to be released in 2015. Somnia is about nightmares psychically manifesting an orphaned child as he sleeps. Yes, sounds a lot like A Nightmare on Elm Street but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, I’d give the movie a 3/5.. I think it could have been so much better.

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