Posts tagged Oculus
Review: Oculus

Despite a few shortcomings, one of the most creative and effective horror films since The Conjuring

A dark, hard to watch, creative, and slightly anticlimactic horror movie. Oculus is the latest low-budget horror film from Producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious). It stars Karen Gillian (Doctor Who) trying to exonerate her brother by proving that the crimes he is accused of were caused by a supernatural being that resides in a mirror. In the process, they must confront the demons of the house and the horrors of their childhood.

Directed by Mike Flanagan, it expertly weaves together the present storyline with flashbacks of the siblings' childhood to slowly build suspense and to deliver many genuinely effective scares. It's story structure is innovative, and Flanagan uses many low-budget yet creative techniques to switch back and forth, which are enjoyable to watch (and sometimes be duped by).

Gillian does great work playing the brave and persistent sister trying to rid her family once and for all of the haunted mirror. The character dynamics were deep and well formed, so that we truly cared about each character on screen, making any threat all the more scary. At times, I was so on edge I wanted to jump up at the screen and protect the characters. 

While the film has cheaper jump scares, it also has more thought-provoking scary elements that stick with you after you leave the theater. Ultimately, what is scary is the the catastrophic family dynamic, the threat of domestic abuse, and the mistreatment of mental illness. We are truly scared by the movie because we care about the characters.

Frankly the ghosts we see are not what is scary about this film. They look kind of silly, as they are visually generic, and the more we see of them, the less effective they are. Instead, what is scary about the film is the tense atmosphere, and the horrors of a messed up family dynamic.

While the first two acts (and most of the third act) are very scary and entertaining, Oculus falters in it's resolution. The way things are wrapped up just doesn't feel very satisfying, especially when there are a lot of more interesting directions it could have taken. Still, it's a testament to the effectiveness of the rest of the film that I walked out of the theater thinking about all of the successful scares, the ramifications of character relationships, and the real world implications of the movie.

Ultimately, Oculus is a thought-provoking original horror film that offers many genuine scares, even if it falters a bit in its conclusion. Oculus is in theaters now.

Rating: 8/10 Stars

Trailer Roundup: Maleficent vs. Young Adult Novel Adaptations

This week gave us quite a few new trailers for upcoming sequels, remakes, and young adult novel adaptations.

New Maleficent Trailer

First up is Disney's upcoming big-budget reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, MaleficentStarring Angelina Jolie as the titular villain/protagonist, this reminds me of 2010's Alice in Wonderland reboot in the worst way possible, with the CGI landscapes and creatures just coming off as generic. What it does have going for it, however, is big star-power in Jolie, who looks like she's having a blast creepily chewing the scenery. Judge for yourself, but between Snow White and the Huntsman and Oz the Great and Powerful, I'm getting tired of dark reboots of fantasy movies over reliant on CGI. Maleficent flies into theaters May 30, 2014.
Trailer Rating: 3/5 Stars

This week trailers were released for two upcoming adaptations of Young Adult Novels hoping to become the next Hunger Games:

The Maze Runner Teaser

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this film stars Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf) who awakes to find his memories are erased and he is trapped inside a maze with a community of boys. The trailer is tense and suspenseful, and the action scenes and questions it raises pique my interest (having not read the novel) for what is to come. The Maze Runner will be released September 19, 2014.
Trailer Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

The Giver Teaser

Also set in a dystopia, this film produced by the Weinstein Co. has higher star power: Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, among others. Visually, it looks derivative of The Hunger Games and Divergent, though it's source material predates both films' sources. Overall, it doesn't appear to live up the quality of the book it's based on. The Giver comes out August 15, 2014.
Trailer Rating: 2/5 Stars

First Trailer for Oculus

From the producer of Insidious and Paranormal Activity comes a new low-budget horror movie that is sure to make a huge profit. Starring Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), this trailer shows lots of creepy tension, a few jump-scares, and plenty of inventive imagery. Oculus comes out April 11, 2014.
Trailer Rating: 4/5 Stars

This week also gave us the Final Trailer for The Amazing Spiderman 2Noah, and an International Trailer for Godzilla, which show off some epic new footage and really get me excited for each of them.

Check back next week for another Trailer Roundup.