Cinematic Releases: Oculus

Horror gets a shot in the arm with this week's release of Oculus, another movie that helps redefine a genre that's been struggling for years. 

"Rebooting BSG again? What?"

As a horror fan, I admittedly go in to these movies with very low expectations. After years of disappointment, my lesson was learned time and time again with bad entry after bad entry. Luckily for genre die hards, Oculus brings a highly stylized, extremely entertaining piece of cinematic horror back to theaters this weekend.

In 2006, Director Mike Flanagan made a low budget movie called Oculus Chapter 3: The Man With The Plan. It was a short film that chronicled one man's journey to prove that an ornate mirror is haunted by evil spirits. Years later, his idea is transformed into a full length feature with believable performances and nail biting scenarios that will drive theater goers insane.

"Mirror mirror on the wall
Who's the hottest redhead
of them all? ME!!!!"

When The Conjuring was released last year, fans rejoiced at a slight return to form for the dying breed of old school scares and vintage techniques. Well, this year we get Oculus, another movie that blends a feeling of nostalgia with plenty of chilling moments and a plot that mixes the age old haunted object story with (some) relatively routine scares. Where the movie falls of track is in its constant battering of its captive audience with its dual timeline story. Yet, all is not bad with this terrorizing tale of a mirror with an era spanning thirst for blood.

The cast features BSG star Katee Sackhoff and a bad ass Rory Cochrane in a role that brings back memories of an off the rails insane James Brolin in the original Amityville Horror. Yet, the two child actors are the standouts of Oculus. Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan bring an innocence to the film with highly emotive performances and a natural feeling that they could actually be siblings. Karen Gillan is way too melodramatic and Brenton Thwaites feels under inspired here.

"Oh god!!! Nickelback! I can't take it!"
Unlike most recent horror films, Oculus doesn't rely on worn out torture porn techniques or standard played out, half wit slasher methods. This is back to basics horror that sets the mood with evil spirits, great camera work, and characters we actually have something vested in. Flanagan's love for all things terrifying is felt all over Oculus and its a good thing.

If you're a fan of scary things and edge of your seat carnage, check out Oculus. While it's not going to win any awards, it is an above average piece of cinematic horror.

-Chris George