“You see what it wants you to see.”
Oculus seemingly nails it up this year as one of the finest. For a horror film, it surprisingly exaggerates its scare on the perception, rather than visual. It finds its interest in playing trick to alter reality and perception fresh from the head of director Mike Flanagan. Oculus confidently stands on a distinctive path of horror, rather than follows the ‘ideal path’ to present it.
The horror takes place in another ‘new house’, a typical set-piece for modern horror. Yet, that’s not the source of the terror. The central of malicious event in Oculus is an ancient mirror, which we soon believe to be the gate of evil from other dimension or whatever it is. How it works and how it is originated isn’t described; making it an open source that effectively draws audiences’ attention.
Our lady, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) is aware of the mirror’s perilous feature. She teams up with her brother, Tim (Brenton Thwaites), who is just released from mental asylum. They try to exorcise the evil within the mirror and destroy it once and for all, as a counter attack of what happened to them in the past. Knowing the nature of the mirror, Kaylie devices modern gadgets to record their attempts, as to prevent the mirror from warping the reality. Soon after they assemble, the film mixes up the present and flashback of what happened to their family—in which, their father (Rory Cochrane) and mother (Katee Sackhoff) fell prey to the mirror and ruined their family.
During the whole film, director Flanagan keeps playing tricks with perception, just like the mirror does. He begins to convince the audiences that the mirror is just any mirror, yet, there’s something wrong with Kaylie and her single-minded decision. Tim knows how to counter every point Kaylie is trying to explain, yet, who would believe him? He’s just newly released from mental asylum. Flanagan responds to it quickly by revealing the mirror as the source of mystery. Yet, the bending reality program never ends there.
Oculus has its effective point as it lets audience lost in certainty to which part is real, which part is memory, which part is illusion, or none of them is true. Although, it’s not a psychological film, yet, it keeps dwelling on the psychological area to balance the horror. As a consequence, Oculus has lost decent package of terror to puzzle. We cannot expect jump scares and shocking moment the way we expect it in James Wan’s films, but, accidentally we often finds original moments that sickly scaring.
This film relies much on the structure and narratives, rather than the familiarity of the casts. Yet, the most fun part of Oculus is the decision not to make it a found-footage or mockumentary film. It has all the materials and background to do so, yet, it refuses it and sticks to the plotting. Avoiding found-footage form and devising first-person narrative, by sequences, makes the horror predictable and the terror less shocking; however, it makes Oculus a genuine terror that puzzles.
Horror Directed by: Mike Flanagan Written by: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard Production Co.: Intrepid Pictures Starred by: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan