Stuff I Watch in October: Oculus (2013)

oculus

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Identity (2003)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween (2007)
Grindhouse (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Predators (2010)
Absentia (2011)
Prometheus (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Oculus (2013)

Oculus

DIRECTOR: Mike Flanagan. Told ya’ you’d be seeing more of him here.

WHAT IS IT?: This is the second film by writer/director Mike Flanagan and the second horror film on his resume. Based upon a critically-acclaimed short horror film he did years prior to this (Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With the Plan), Oculus was given a much bigger budget and the backing of Blumhouse Productions and WWE Studios. Yes, THAT WWE. But don’t let that fool you. Like underestimating the mirror in the film, scoffing at the WWE Studios logo would be your first error.

THE PLOT: Kaylie, a young woman obsessed with exonerating her younger brother who, a decade prior, had been convicted of murder, purchases a designer mirror her family once owned, dead-set on proving that the item is possessed and led her brother to do what he did all those years ago by recording its powers before finally destroying it.

Her brother, however, is mentally exhausted, having been discharged from a mental ward after being given a clean bill of health. He believes that his sister is in danger of becoming as mentally ill as he was. And if that isn’t enough, the mirror itself is more than capable of defending itself and isn’t ready to go that easy.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The film received positive reviews for Flanagan’s style of pushing dread and unease over gore. Critics also noted the the film was incredibly well-acted and well-written.

Oculus

WHAT DID I THINK?: Like just about everything Mike Flanagan does, the story has a lot of exposition, which is given to us courtesy of numerous flashbacks. Normally, this would be a deal-breaker for me but, here, it’s effective in that bridges the gap between the two timelines in more ways than one.

The six main actors in this picture steal the show. Annalise Basso and Karen Gillian play the young and older Kaylie, respectively while Garrett Ryan Ewald and Brenton Thwaites play the young and older Tim, Kaylie’s younger brother. All four of these actors are phenomenal at conveying the close bond between siblings and they are the heart of this film, which would be reduced to total horror schlock if there was anything less. You believe they have a deep love for one another, especially during their struggles with their mom and dad (Katee Sackhoff and Rory Cochrane, respectively) who are corrupted by the mirror’s evil powers.

The film is a slow burn, one that takes its time letting you get to know Kaylie and Tim and their plight. Gillian is especially great at portraying the older Kaylie as the confident, tough older sister of her brother who Thwaites plays as a man who just wants to move on with his life and believes that his sister has been corrupted and turned cold — but it’s more or less because of her vendetta against the mirror that took her brother from her and not so much the item itself.

Once the shit hits the fan (or the mirror, I guess), the movie doesn’t relent.

It hits the gas and goes full throttle toward the wall and you’re on the edge of your seat for the rest of it as the film unravels and begins to give you the truth about what happened and what led to the tragic events in 2002.

Mostly, the film is all about the unbreakable bond between two siblings and the love of a protective older sister who will go to the ends of the Earth to show everyone that her younger brother is a good person, even though the entire affair ends up being a bit bittersweet.

I really liked this movie.

GRADE: B+

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