Oculus (2014) – Review

There has been quite a fuss around Oculus, a suspenseful horror movie of the paranormal. Considering its particularly high score on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes I assume that it has been welcomed by the fans of the genre and it has received favorable comments. But how come I don’t feel the same way?

Oculus follows the story of two siblings, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), whose traumatic and horrible past brings them back face-to-face with their personal demons. In a scary and dreadful night when they were young children, awful things happened in their house resulting in their father’s death in front of the bright, glowing eyes of a ghost. Following this event 10-year-old Tim was sent to a mental health clinic in order to recover as he was the one who pulled the trigger. How his older sister coped with this horrible situation is unknown, but 11 years later we see Kaylie as a young woman ready to welcome her little brother back to the outside world as he is released from the clinic.

Her interest and basically her obsession revolves around an old mirror that used to decorate her father’s personal office. Her plan is simple. Only a couple of days after Tim’s release from the mental clinic, Kaylie persuades him to go with her back to their old house and destroy the mirror. What a better idea for a scarred young man who has just managed to get over his horrible past memories than go back to the place where the mayhem started.

As the story progresses one thing becomes really obvious. The two protagonists have their own individual versions of the truth. They both seem to remember the events of that night in a completely different way. What’s true and what’s not, they’ll soon find out. But until they do, the viewers get to see these two nights (the past and the current one) taking place simultaneously. That’s the moment when the events 11 years back unfold before our confused eyes and begin to make some sense to justify the current night, when history seems to repeat itself.

The story alone is very interesting. Considering that the viewers have absolutely no idea of what happened in the past and who that ghost-lady with the white sparkling eyes is, Oculus is a film worth watching until the end. That is if, of course, you don’t find Gillan completely unbearable.

I would certainly give 10/10 to the performances of young Kaylie and young Tim. Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan are absolutely brilliant in their roles and I wouldn’t mind them being the only protagonists. Old Kaylie is super arrogant, completely obnoxious and unbelievably unlikeable. On the contrary old Tim is not that bad, but his character is undermined by the excellent performance of his younger self.

As far as the setting of this macabre night is concerned, there are no surprises there; new two storey house with lots of rooms to hide in and the usual stairs to trip over while running. It has already degenerated into cliché by now.

 Brenton Thwaites's emergency pinky

Brenton Thwaites’s emergency pinky

However, my favorite moment in the film is when Tim calls the police for help. Why? Because his pinky is adorable.

Frankly, I find the high score of Oculus unjustifiable, but again that shouldn’t be discouraging. If you find yourselves craving for some complex horror, sit back and keep your eyes open. Oculus is here to keep you wondering and guessing, but unfortunately not to scare you.

And to quote Joe E. Brown in Some Like it Hot: Well, nobody’s perfect. Neither is Oculus. 5/10

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Comments
11 Responses to “Oculus (2014) – Review”
  1. dbmoviesblog says:

    Interesting review. I think it becomes increasingly difficult for scary movies to really ‘scare’ people nowadays, since people now know all the tricks, its hard to impress, or find something truly original. James Wan (Insidious) is trying to do just this for years now. But I do agree with you on the point that this film probably does not really deserve such high marks it has been given. Nice post.

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    • maria kriva says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by! Yes you are absolutely right…it is very hard to scare or impress the horror fans!! James Wan’s work is amazing and I really hope it continues that way! A few years ago, found-footage films also did the same thing, but I think that trend is not that effective now. Well, there are always the non-fans who find EVERYTHING scary, so maybe they are becoming the targeted audience! :))

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  2. thycriticman says:

    You know…the thing is….my review was somewhat mixed as well. I struggled between a 3 and a 3.5. The dialogue is incredibly witty and the script is very smart. It just…isn’t…like…fantastic for some reason. Maybe because of the horrible ending? It went from inventive to generic in two seconds.

    You know…you and I…we are horror fans. Mainstream…independent…low-budget….so my question is…how many damn times do we have to see the “I wish I could use spoiler tags but you should already know what I am talking about” ending.

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    • thycriticman says:

      (That is supposed to be with a question mark):)

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    • maria kriva says:

      Oh I know exactly what you mean! In the beginning it was so mysterious and intriguing…but when Gillan showed up with her stupid swinging ponytail and started talking so fast about her precious research….urgh..I just couldn’t stand her!! I don’t think I’ve disliked any character this much!This was decisive for me! haha
      The story could have been great, but yes no fan would be impressed by the ending! This film is really overrated.

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  3. thycriticman says:

    I just laughed at that! I can totally imagine her annoying the heck out of people! You know…I actually met a few people who were. But they weren’t general horror fans…

    I mean…I could name two or three horror films released in 2014 with an identical ending. Sample: Devil’s Due! Released two months previously into mainstream theaters!

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  4. Tom says:

    Great review Maria! I think Oculus worked a little more for me by the seems of things but I really hate the way this thing ends. I’m hoping for a sequel so we don’t feel so let-down by it all. . .but who knows. Other than that, though. Yeah, I’ll def agree about Gillan’s character. She’s super annoying for most of this.

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    • maria kriva says:

      Thanks Tom! 🙂 I’m not sure whether I’d be excited about the possibility of a sequel especially if Gillan’s in it again, haha! But you’re right, the ending was quite disappointing and I’d say a bit predictable!! It would be a great change, though, to have a sequel better than the original!! It almost never happens!! 😀

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  5. Excellent review. I actually quite like Gillan in it though! It’s an interesting film but I don’t think the writers knew how to end it. Plus it’s not very scary

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    • maria kriva says:

      Oh absolutely! The ending is really problematic and certainly not scary at all! That’s too bad though, because it could have been much better, the story was very interesting! Haha, I know maybe I’m a bit harsh about Gillan’s performance, but there was something about the sound of her high-heels and her long ponytail that I couldn’t stand.

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  1. […] Sundown and increase their filmography with one more horror movie among others, such as Sinister, Oculus, The Purge, Paranormal Activity and […]

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