Many people across the internet have been proclaiming that horror movies in American aren’t any good anymore. There is no movies that measure up to the classic horror films. When that simply isn’t the case. Sure there are bad ones but there a lot of bad movies in any genre across time. “Sinister” in 2011 and “The Conjuring” in 2013 or even “The Cabin in the Woods” in 2012 are all examples of recent horror films that have been outstanding. You can add one more to that list with “Oculus”. This is a horror film that is smart, well written, and provides scares and suspense throughout this hour and a half fright fest that at times can be a bit confusing but makes up for it all in one disturbing scene after another.
“Oculus” tells the story of a two siblings, one of which just got released from a mental hospital. Both of them went through a traumatic event during their childhood, where the sister of these two siblings suspects was because of a demonic mirror. Now she entices him to go back to the very same house that this event took place in, to investigate the mirror and prove it was behind everything. While it is still very much active.
Horror movies can be very notorious for rushing into the thick of the plot without much foreplay, or build up. This movie really likes to take it’s time. I was very impressed by just how well written it was. The script weaves together two separate storylines together. One, during the present where the now grown up kids are going back to investigate this mirror. The second one is about when these siblings were kids. You get to progressively see what happened to these kids and both storylines are intriguing and creepy. When you leave one storyline, you feel a little disappointed because you were really invested in that storyline, only to get sucked right back in to the next one. It clever writing, and the story is consistently intriguing.
The only problems that exist with the writing is during the final act, it gets really confusing. The storylines get a bit tangled up, something that does demand a few more views to fully understand some of it but other parts just get a little much. For instance the two storylines almost converge towards the end and you’re never quite sure if you’re watching the kids story, or the adults story, or the adults seeing themselves as kids, is all the mirror playing a trick on them? Either way, it doesn’t hurt the film too much simply because whatever is going on, on screen , is creepy as hell and will scare you.
As I’ve been mentioning throughout this review, this movie is scary. The director really knows how to provide us with some truly terrifying scenes of terror. It doesn’t start off like that, the movie takes it’s time building up the suspense. Laying the ground work for the other acts of the film, that the tension really starts building the middle and starts to get really creepy and trippy. Then all that build up pays off when all out mayhem ensues, and will leave audiences afraid and terrified. Some people will not like the slow burn and some imagery is too disturbing for some but the movie never relays on that for frights and scares. Also it doesn’t fall prey to the typical “jump scares” we always tend to see in films like this.
A jump scare, for those of you that don’t know, is basically when something jumps out of nowhere to surprise you and make you jump. It akin to a friend jumping out from around the corner yelling boo! It’s pretty cheap and lazy, very rarely does it actually add anything to the movie. “Sinister” is a rare example of the jump scare actually being effective and keeping the tension up. This movie doesn’t really have any jump scares that I can remember, and relays sorely on atmospheric tension and the disturbing images to get it’s scares, and it earns them.
The acting is another thing that is surprisingly really good. One of the big things that can hurt a horror movie is poor acting. You need to be able to believe what’s happening to the characters on screen to be invested and scared. In an action movie you can get away with some bad acting as long as you bring the thrills, a horror movie can be hurt dearly by it.
Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites play the two leads, brother and sister. Both of them do a great job acting in the film, hopefully we’ll see them in more films to come. Katee Sackhoff, from “Battlestar Galactica” fame, plays their mother and is also really good in the movie. Rory Cochrane does a good job playing the role of their father. Even the kids, whom play the younger versions of their characters do a really good job. Usually kids in horror films, is a death sentence to the viewer watching them attempt to act. But the two kids named, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan do an excellent job especially for their age.
Here is another great horror film and a lot better than some of the other offerings we have had this year. The acting is terrific, the screenplay is well written, if not otherwise confusing at times but the movie sure delivers the scares and thrills, an excellent horror film to add a Halloween marathon.