Friday, April 11, 2014

Oculus: Review

Horror movies are full of dumb things like running and stumbling, going into a dark basement without a light, or yelling 'who's there' at the worst time. But every once in a while, a movie comes along where the characters do all the right things and think before acting. Oculus, opening today, proves horror movies can be intelligent and thoroughly scary. It’s the best horror movie of the year (so far), and will likely become a cult classic.

The story which seems rather silly at first – a haunted mirror – actually has a great deal of depth, and builds a rich mythos behind it. It’s the kind of original story you just don’t see anymore. And while it’s loaded with foreshadowing, its keeps the viewer committed to discovering the truth. The film is set in two time periods, jumping between them to dizzying effect and creating an unnerving sense of disorientation (made rather visceral with a thumping aural soundtrack).

But Oculus is not for everyone. This film has an independent heart beating at it’s core, and doesn’t have the broad mainstream appeal of straightforward films like The Conjuring or Paranormal Activity. Horror’s big cash cow (teenagers) will likely be scratching their heads on this one (assuming they get in since it’s an R-rated film). Ultimately, Oculus achieves a terrifying atmosphere with a faceless, inanimate antagonist at the head, avoiding many of the standard gimmicks, and relying on old-fashioned, slow building tension. It’s unusual, perplexing, non-linear, and I wonder if audiences will truly connect to this gem.


2 comments:

  1. Sort of interesting when it comes down to wondering if people are smart enough to "get" a good horror movie, huh?

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    1. I think mainstream audiences have been conditioned to expect low standards from horror movies, and yes they get lazy. Anything outside of standard fare with typical gimmicks is perceived as “bad” or “boring”. And the studios don’t really care about quality control as long as their cash cows are producing decent box office returns. Horror is not perceived as a prestige category, yet movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Blind Side, Jerry Maguire, and Crash (all decent movies) get accolades for being AMAZING and Oscar-worthy. It’s absurd.

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