Most One Star Classics recommendations are usually qualified with variations of if, unless, expect, and it actually kinda sucks. This is not the case with Oculus. I don’t entirely remember where One Star Classics Editorial Board read about its awesomeness-ish, but the source was at least semi-credible.
Oculus is part of the recent new-wave of horror movies. Examples of earlier waves would be early-eighties slasher, the mid-nineties teen screams, and the mid-aughties «torture porns». The current crop is usually lower-budget indie films from auteurs who put a lot of emphasis on style and atmosphere. Dario Argento-esque if you like, just less Italian.
It Follows has really been the poster-child of the recent films. It’s a strange, good-looking movie, with a superb-and-a-half soundtrack from Disasterpiece. Oculus, meanwhile, is possibly a good runner-up. It has gotten little exposure compared to It Follows—which has easily achieved broader cult status, and analysis from Quentin Tarantino—but will likely gain some more attention now that it
has hit this site is on Netflix. Oculus might look like a recyclable horror movie for anyone who browse through Netflix’s recommendations, but there is a lot more to it than the generic poster-art reveals.
There’s really not one single thing I could point out as being downright flawed here. I mean, maybe the first 20 minutes, but that is all straightened out with a two minute monologue later, so I’m willing to forget about it. The rest is… solid. Like, good workmanship. Acting is professional, the filming is adept, and the story is slick. None of those adjectives are impeccable, I suppose, but add them all up, and you have a movie that is well worth watching. Better than 97% of Netflix in that sense.
Oculus is a haunted mirror movie—people who own the mirror are killed by it and yada, yada, yada—and if I was to compare it to anything, both Poltergeist and the original 1950's Haunting come to mind. The story is sorta predictable, I guess, but a big part of what works are the two mirrored stories. How they join up in the end, and how they are pulled together by some excellent acting from Karen Gillian and Annalise Basso (not to mention Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff)… I mean, it might not be Shakespeare, but Oculus keeps you entertained throughout, all with an uneasy feel to it. Hell, even the ghosts-from-mirrors-past don’t look sterotypical.
Force me to describe the movie with one word, and I’d go with enjoyable. (Which probably says more about me than the movie.)
The only reason I really am writing about the film is that it would be easy to skip on Netflix, and that would just be a little bit sad. Oculus is not a fantastic movie, but it really should be watched, at the very least if you enjoy slow foreboding creepiness. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people will get a career-boost based on their work in Oculus, and good on them. They deserve it. And you, as one of the three people who read this, owe it to yourself and them to watch it, too.