Oculus Movie Review
To call Oculus unique would be a stretch. To call it different than your other generic horror movie fare… sure. Whether that’s enough to make it worth it is up for debate.
The movie was a critical success but a financial disappointment, barely earning back its budget in the United States. As can be expected by a horror movie that actually gets good reviews, Oculus is concerned less with gore and shock value and more with telling a creepy story.
Creepy stories aren’t enough for the average horror viewer, however, and that’s where Oculus falls short. The movie revolves around two siblings who, when they were children, witnessed their parents kill each other courtesy of a haunted mirror. Now all grown up, they collaborate to destroy the mirror—even though the mirror has the superb ability to protect itself.
The problem is that the first half of the movie consists primarily of stars Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites arguing with one another about the mirror. To call it a slow boil would be misleading, because director and co-writer Mike Flanagan really fails to inject any sense of suspense or dread into these scenes.
It doesn’t help that Gillan and Thwaites come off as stilted or disinterested most of the time. Thwaites primarily acts like a deer caught in headlights, while Gillan attempts to overcompensate for his blandness by over-acting and shouting a lot. McKayla Maroney is not impressed.
The movie picks up in the second half, however, as Flanagan finally reveals through flashback what exactly happened back in the day. The flashbacks are by far the best part of Oculus, primarily because stuff actually happens in them. Thankfully, the modern day stuff gets more interesting, too, as the mirror begins to mess with its caretakers.
The ending is pretty good, too.
Oculus is saved by a stronger second half and a memorable ending, but to get there you have to suffer through forty minutes of two obnoxious people bickering with each other. The film’s hook makes it worth it, but only just barely.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.