Oculus

Karen Gillan and her brother Brenton Thwaites re-unite to try and solve the mysterious deaths of their Father (which Brenton is charged with) and Mother (which the Father us charged with). Karen believes that behind all of the goings on is a strange mirror that arrived at their childhood home just as things started to get strange.

First of all it is great to see Karen Gillan (formerly of Doctor Who fame) starring in a big Hollywood film, and especially one in which she does such a good job. Her performance is, while not spectacular, the real anchor behind what is good about this movie. And there is quite a lot of good. It is very creepy, and at times pretty scary, I mean it’s not the Babadook or the Haunting, but if you are looking for a very solidly creepy movie, with some genuine scares look no further.

What separates this movie from the general sludge which is the majority of modern horror films, is that its creepiness is based on ideas. It doesn’t rely on violins telling the viewer a big sound is about to happen, or just peppering the audience with “boo” moments. It sets up a general idea that this mirror, makes what you see questionable, and sets up a scenario where you can’t trust your own senses, and that is a very very creepy premise.

However, I do feel like at times it does try and fit into the creepy music dark corridor bang moment kind of horror blueprint. And although these moments are dealt with efficiently, I wanted there to be more of the mirror messing with your mind moments, which are the highlights. Also Brenton Thwaites isn’t much of a screen prescience, but you end up connecting with Karen Gillan enough to compensate for his lack in charisma.

[START OF SPOILERS]

I couldn’t do a review of this movie without talking about the ending. An ending which I appreciated, but didn’t enjoy. At the very end of this, Brenton attempts to smash the mirror, only to find out that the mirror has played him one last time, and he ends up killing Karen Gillan. Now, I appreciate it’s a big change for the main character in a horror film to die at the end, and I admire it for that. But, I was just a little disappointed when it didn’t end all happily. My feeling were very similar to those I had from the end of the Amazing Spiderman 2, where I felt like it was a good thing that they didn’t include a nice cushy ending, but I’m a real sucker for “they lived happily ever after”. The fact that I felt like this though, also shows that the film had succeeded in getting me to root for the characters. So I have overly mixed feeling about this ending.

[END OF SPOILERS]

Overall then, this is not nearly as incredible as the Babadook, but then what really is? I really enjoyed Oculus, I thought it was very creepy, and Karen Gillan was great. It was very refreshing to have an ideas based horror at long last, that wasn’t just things popping out of the corner of the screen and slamming doors.

8/10

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