Movie Review: Oculus

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The first question I had right after the movie was over was “What the hell does Oculus mean?”, a question I didn’t get answered until 30 seconds ago when I looked up the definition on the internet.  “A round or eyelike opening or design, in particular.”  Hmmm, the haunted mirror portal in the movie seemed more like a rectangle to me…  Maybe had two rounded edges.  More like a cylinder than anything.  Probably should have been called Slight Oculus.  But I’m a kind of a stickler for horror movie geometry.  [sips Merlot with pinky extended]

“Oculus” [rolls eyes], is the latest WWE Productions film that I didn’t realize was WWE Productions until I was sitting in the theater.  It’s about a haunted mirror that causes people to kill themselves or others through mind games, but only within a 50 foot radius or so.  Savvy haunted mirror owners will find the ghost’s radius and draw a chalk line, so that they can do taunting dances in their underpants while being just out of reach.  Anyway, these two kids (that the mirror caused their parents to kill themselves ten years prior) get ahold of the mirror again ten years after it originally fucked with them, and try to prove to the world that the mirror is a big jerk, by filming it doing ghoulish things with cameras.  But, of course, the mirror is super evil and can manipulate everything (including camera stuff), and the characters just end up hallucinating everything they’re doing and accomplish very little.  It reminds me of that time when my haunted pizza oven convinced my brain that I was Isaac Washington from The Love Boat for two months; I didn’t realize what was going on until after I had taken three bartending courses and put a down payment on a pontoon boat.  Ghosts gonna ghost.

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The film is actually pretty well constructed, with the story jumping back and forth between the 20-something characters and their 10-year-old counterparts, eventually culminating in the older and younger characters interacting in the same room with each other.  But aside from that neat bit of storytelling, it’s kind of hard to overlook the so-so acting, the bland cinematography, and the cheesy looking CG metallic eye effect they chose to give all the ghosts.  There was plenty of room for improvement.

But for a movie about a haunted mirror, it could have been way worse I suppose.  Aside from a few shoehorned “gross out” scenes (like the one from the trailer when the character bites into a lightbulb), it’s mainly a decent psychological ghost movie.  There’s something oddly interesting about a boring inanimate object that causes problems.  I wish I could have seen a comedy version of this film that featured the inner monologue of the mirror as it did all the evil things it did; speaking in what I assume would be a sassy, flamboyant southern accent as it snickers at its victims, “I do declaaaaare, y’all rapscallions are fixin for quite the night of delectable larking and cattywampus misfortune! (moves chair to other side of the room) (drinks a mint julep) (laughs boisterously).”  At the very least, the film creates a fear of inanimate household objects having real, functional thoughts about their human owners that makes me nervous about whether or not my shower curtain is laughing at me or my desk chair is judging me for eating seven White Castle sliders for lunch.  I don’t need the added social pressure of whether or not the dining room table will invite me to the refrigerator’s birthday party on Facebook.  I’ll never get the chance to be friends with the sofa if I don’t get invited.  Sofa is the coolest, and everyone knows it.  Shut up, Ottoman!  He totally is!  You’re just jelly!

6.5 out of 10

 

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