Oculus (2013) Review

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Oculus (2013)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Karen Gillan
Brenton Thwaites
Rory Cochrane
Katee Sackhoff

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Oculus is a 2013 American psychological horror film starring Karen Gillan as a young woman who is convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortune her family has suffered. The film is based upon an earlier short film by Flanagan, Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this review short: I was disappointed with Oculus. Then again, I’ve been disappointed with the majority of horror films since about 1988 to present day (I literally just looked up Nightmare On Elm Street 3 to see what year it was. 1987 – that movie rules). Horror isn’t my favorite genre but I really enjoy it when they actually get one right. Unfortunately, Oculus doesn’t “get it right”. (I did a list of my Top Ten Horror Movies HERE to give you an idea on the type of horror I like. Mainly from the 70s & early 80s!).

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Like most modern horror movies, Oculus starts out okay and seems like it could have some potential. Then, like most modern horror movies once again, it starts to fall apart then finally crashes & burns at the end. Just like Sinister & Insidious – promising start then… WTF?! Why do so many horror movies do this? (To be fair, Sinister & Insidious had far more ridiculous endings than Oculus).

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Oculus starts out nice & mysterious with a creepy old mirror. I’ll try to stay spoiler-free as usual so won’t say a lot but, when Karen Gillan’s character starts setting things up & telling her brother her elaborate plan while explaining the mirror’s murderous history, I was up for some nice mind-bending stuff where we don’t know what is & isn’t real. We get that but the problem is that the story doesn’t come together at the end. Like the final seasons of Lost, it felt like the writers were just making it all up as they went along. Things didn’t add up and all that time that Gillan spent explaining things at the beginning of the film felt like a complete waste of time as, ultimately, none of it seemed to be that important to the story after all.

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Maybe I’m just too picky and shouldn’t expect the story in a horror movie to actually come together & make some sort of sense at the end. I’m not someone who needs a full explanation & do like when some things are left up to the viewer to figure out for themselves. But I feel like I’ve wasted two hours of my life when movies such as Oculus are clearly made before the story is fully fleshed out (even if only in the writers’ minds at the very least). I have to give it some credit for at least trying to be more than just some braindead slasher flick. But in the end, Oculus just isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. I see it was a short film first and I think it would probably work much better as a creepy little short story without a lot of unnecessary explanations added. Well, at least it had some potential & was still a million times better than Kiefer Sutherland’s Mirrors

My Rating: 4.5/10

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51 thoughts on “Oculus (2013) Review

  1. I’m actually writing my review for this movie now. I feel the complete opposite as you do. I loved this film and I’m usually the guy that hates every new horror movie out there. I thought The Conjuring was really good and I really liked this movie too.

  2. Really appreciated the Lost reference. The show’s first three seasons were so good and then it went downhill from them after Charlie. Those last seasons were atrocious. The second to last season was so bad I didn’t even bother watching the last one because by that point I felt I was watching a completely different show. All my bonds with the characters were severed, the plot was way too confusing and the rest just lost any intrigue and interest it had. I just realized I left a whole comment about Lost instead of this review. I apologize but Lost has left a bitter taste in my mouth after all these years. I’m not a horror fan myself so I haven’t seen this but I’ve heard mostly good things, although I also feel horror movies try too hard these days to be original when a cookie cutter copy with some true scares and half decent characters would do just fine.

    • Lol! That’s okay – I know Lost pissed a lot of people off in the end. ; ) I’ve tried to forgive Lost, though, and tried to remember JUST how good it was at first! Yeah – the problem with Oculus is that the characters were shit. I didn’t care about them at all, especially Gillan who was quite unlikeable as a grown-up. I don’t know why they can’t put decent characters in a horror flick…

  3. I was a little disappointed in this–especially the end–but I actually ended up liking it alright! Shame you didn’t seem to like it much at all. Ooooh now I want to find good modern horror films for you! Have you seen ANY after the ’80s that you love??

    • Lol. I do like SOME horrors since 1988. ; ) Just not many! Liked a few I reviewed for Halloween last year (The Conjuring, The Innkeepers, and especially The Descent). There are just soooo many BAD horrors now that it’s harder to find the good ones! Do love a lot of foreign ones, like The Orphanage & Let The Right One In. : )

  4. This generated enough positive buzz that I still plan to see it, but I also generally dislike horror. So I haven’t been in any hurry. Your tepid response to it means I’ll move even more slowly. 🙂

  5. I love it Mutey!! Against the grain!!!! Hahah nah, some parts of Oculus absolutely annoyed the shit out of me. But overall I did like it quite a lot, but that’s a very interesting point you make. If this was a short film — even running as much as like 40 mins or something — this could be really really really cool.

    • Lol! I think poor Eric thinks I just like to disagree with him but I did genuinely find this film extremely disappointing. Yes – I think it could be very good as a short film! The concept is there – they just didn’t do a great job with it & didn’t seem to know where to go with the story…

  6. Reblogged this on Cinema Parrot Disco and commented:

    I’ll be reviewing movies from director & writer Mike Flanagan for the next three days (Absentia, Hush & hopefully new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil if I manage to get to it). So today I’m reblogging my review of his film Oculus. Let’s hope I liked his other movies more than this one… 🙂

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  9. I actually enjoyed this one. Gillian wasn’t great in it but I thought she her character wasn’t so likable because she was the one really obsessed with the mirror. I felt they institutionalized her brother because they thought he did it but there was not enough evidence to win a trial and it was a ‘stop-gap’ measure but that her obsession with it was unhealthy and that she really was the one that needed to be institutionalized.

    This rather reminded me of some of the old, 1970’s and early 1980’s horror movies in which there was a good and a bad twin and somehow, the bad twin always managed to frame the good twin, so the good twin goes into an institution/jail and the bad twin goes free, then the movie starts when the good twin gets releases triggering the bad twin to start killing again. I don’t think they were twins but Gillian was the one who was really nuts.

    It wasn’t great but I liked it well enough that I would watch it a second time. I admit that I recommend the film to people who hated Amy Pond so they can watch ‘Amy Pond’ die. It has had some good value for that alone. (PS, I am an Amy Pond fan but I understand people who don’t like her. It is like me watching certain horror movies just to watch Paris Hilton die.)

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