Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oculus

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Seriously...a mirror?






Oculus – 2 out of 5

Mirrors can be scary…I guess. Maybe if your reflection moves in a way you are currently not moving and then proceeds to awkwardly hit on you or if you are incredibly unattractive and hate looking at yourself…I guess if that’s the case, it could be scary. However, mirrors themselves aren’t inherently scary…unless you’re stupid and think you are looking through a window into another dimension and the person on the other side that looks just like you is someone copying your every movement. Okay, I won’t bullshit anymore, the concept of this film just sounds like complete bull plop and another Amityville sequel waiting to happen (the mirror came from inside the Amityville house!!!).

                                                                                                                                   Relativity Media
I don't care how ornate you make the mirror, it's still a mirror and mirrors aren't
scary.


Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) experienced some horrible shit as children. Their parents went crazy after moving into a new house and acquiring an antique mirror. Their father (Rory Cochrane) became distant and disturbingly quiet and their mother (Katee Sackhoff) started to fear her husband was getting some nookie on the side and the entire ordeal started to consume her to the point of hysteria. This ended with daddy killing mommy and Timmy having a hand in daddy’s death. Tim is institutionalized and Kaylie grows up with a desire to stop the evil mirror that turned her family’s life inside out with its evil, mirror-y ways. Once Tim is released from the nut house, the two take the mirror and hold up in their childhood home with a plan to stop the evil antique…but the mirror has other plans…plans that involve living to reflect its evil another day and it twists Kaylie and Tim’s reality to the point where what is real and what isn’t becomes a maddening ordeal.

                                                                                                Relativity Media
Ew gross...that light bulb isn't even high efficiency.


I’ll be honest, the fact that Amy Pond and Starbuck from the epic Battlestar Galactica reboot were in this film was the only reason I agreed to watch it (that and the fact my girlfriend said she would pay and let me have my own popcorn). The fact the film was about a haunted mirror and the fact it was partially produced by WWE Studios told me all I needed to know about the film. However, the trailer looked half-way decent and the film isn’t that bad…up to a point.

                                                                                                Relativity Media
Well, this is embarrassing...I wear the same thing when I'm standing creepily in
front of an antique mirror.


After a certain point in the film, the entire story just feels like it stops trying and falls into a downward spiral of never-endingly repeating itself until the grossly predictable ending comes. When the film begins, the story feels like it is about to take the approach, through the dialogue between Gillan and Thwaites and what the character of Tim learns while he’s at a psychiatric hospital, that everything that will happen in this film and the events of the kids’ childhood may have been entirely created by their little, post-traumatic minds. The story gives off the feel that the events that are going to transpire may or may not be happening in a supernatural sense and may just be a fever dream of two individuals who suffered something incredibly tragic in their past. At that point, I was like, “Fuck yeah! Horror films nowadays never go this route and the guy who says there’s a logical explanation is punched in the nuts by a demon and told he is wrong.”

Then I got punched in the nuts by a demon.

                                                                                                Relativity Media
Just please don't shoot me in the nuts, demons.


The movie clearly wants you to understand that there is no ambiguity here, the mirror is clearly fucking with them. Oh yes, there is a sense of “is this shit really happening or not” but it’s a sense of “is the mirror letting you see reality or one of its illusions.” This dynamic and the predictable route of making the skeptic the wrong party to the point that Gillan’s character pretty much stuck her tongue out and said, “Nana nana boo boo, I’m right about the scary mirror and your skeptic ways are completely full of shit!” This direction ends up taking away all the mystery of the film and what you see ends up becoming an easily followed path on what the mirror is doing and what it is not. Had the production decided to have the story focus on whether or not the mirror’s evilness was based in a supernatural reality versus the imagination of two kids who watched their dad gun down their mother, there, most likely, would have been a larger element of surprise and the story and plot wouldn’t have been so easily to see coming.

                                                                                                Relativity Media
"Hey look, it's the obvious plot turns right behind us..."


This predictable path the film moves at also becomes evident with the lackluster scares the film has. Oculus wants to take a very methodical, slow approach to its horror and that is fantastic as long as the tone and atmosphere can be adequately built. However, like the story that is easily seen from space, the scares come at you so slowly that they are as equally easily to spot before they arrive. The problem of the film’s pace ends up making these scares (which are already easily anticipated) slowly unveil themselves on screen and, when you combine the fact that my mind has already correctly guessed the arrival of the next scare and the fact that the film very slowly unfolds this potential scare across the screen, my mind has already had way too much time to process this supposed frightening imagery and, when it’s finally presented in its full form, I’m not even remotely spooked by it.  There was just no shock or surprise to this film...just obvious moves that can be calculated before the film was even close to making them.

                                                                                                Relativity Media
Starbuck!  NOOOO!


However, there is one thing this film does great and that is the acting. While it was annoying that Karen Gillan didn’t go out of the comfort zone of her notable role in Doctor Who and is just playing Amy Pond battling a spooky mirror (with the obvious exception of not having Rory around to not appreciate and treat like a third wheel—that’s right! I didn’t like how Amy treated Rory. He protected you while you were in the Pandorica, Amelia!); however, she wasn’t bad in her role and neither was Brenton Thwaites. Both of them played off each other very well together and had a chemistry that made their character’s sibling-hood-ness (totally a word) feel real. However, the real show-stealer was Katee Sackhoff as she was absolutely incredible as Marie Russell. Watching her character’s heartache turned to insanity thanks to Creepy Mirror made the film bearable despite the fact it wasn’t scary or interesting in the least.

                                                                                                         Relativity Media
"I just have to find the TARDIS--I mean, the mirror and maybe the Doctor--I mean,
my brother and I can stop it."


Oculus just felt entirely lazy. The film lacked intrigue and, more importantly, felt like it was just a padded out and stretched first act of a scary movie that suddenly jumps to the final climax seconds before the credits roll. At a certain point, the exposition and development of the characters has to stop so the terror can begin and, beyond the weak and predictable scares, that ended up being the real killer to the film. At the very least, the unveiling story of the kids’ past trauma and their current ordeal could have been blended together better but that wasn’t the case as the film felt more like what happened in the past was more important that the challenges they were facing in the now (although what the production was going for had the potential to be very interesting and unique). Finally, forgoing any ambiguity on whether the events were supernatural or not just ended up giving the feel that Oculus was content with just doing a portion of the work and ended up making the film an entire waste of time and money. And to think, I could have spent that time at the theater seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier a second time.

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