Oculus (R)

8 Stars

Self-reflection.

How much is too much?

Although the story remains unread on my bookshelf, I’d imagine Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey deals heavily with this notion.

Since publication, many other horror stories utilize the mirror motif. Candyman (1992) is one of the scariest movies of all time. Mirrors (2008) isn’t as good, but hey – further fright by looking glass!

Bearing in mind horror movies are graded on a curve, Oculus is great.

Not only is it scary, it’s thought provoking and nuanced.

Plus, Karen Gillan!

Throw her on a list of promising young up-and-comers. She plays the bionic woman in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Brenton Thwaites isn’t the cat’s pajamas, but he does just fine.

Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff turn in solid performances as the parents. The kids, Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan were also very good.

First and foremost, Oculus establishes fair and realistic circumstances by which the viewer can suspend disbelief. Some of the best horror movies nowadays struggle with this.

Also, despite a tiny (five million dollar) budget, the movie looks great. You can feel the production value, the effort behind the moviemaking.

Unlike the Paranormal Activity franchise, which I’ve been screaming about since the first was released in 2009. It seems like folks have caught on since the trailer for the fourth movie, but I’m going to be upset if I have to sit through a preview for P.A. 5.

I’ll get back to Oculus in a moment but one last note on the P.A. franchise.

It lessened the credibility of the horror genre by supporting a notion introduced by The Blair Witch Project.

The idea that production value doesn’t necessarily increase believability, and success can be achieved through marketing trickery and cheap filmmaking.

Therefore what’s debatably the campiest genre became even less appealing to the out-group as a large source of revenue. What is commonly perceived as a ‘lesser art form’ is further denigrated by the cheapness required to satisfy the audience.

My soapbox has a stepladder I’m currently descending.

Anyway. Oculus puts the theme of reflection to good use.

Man, horror guys really love their overlapping dualities.

The ending (and Rotten Tomatoes) leads me to believe there will be a sequel, which I’m very intrigued to see.

Two separate timeframes unfold through the perspective of two protagonists, under similar conditions in the same setting. The viewer watches along as the memories overlap with the present.

See? Nuance!

What we have here, folks, is an unreliable narrator.

A subjective third-person omniscient narrator, to be precise.

A perspective that swivels willy-nilly between past and present, reality and delusion.

Oftentimes it’s difficult to discern what’s an objective historical account or concrete memory. The blurred lines between the individual perceptions of both past and present are a theme reflected throughout.

Thus resulting in some rather subtle social commentary regarding psychotherapy.

After all that time spent in self-reflection, how much good does it do him in moving forward?

Didn’t think I was going to bring it back around, did you?

Thoughts, perchance?

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