The movie Oculus (released yesterday, 72% on Rotten Tomatoes) is the tale of how sometimes, you get a bad idea, and then you build your life around it.
You stack your bad ideas on top of each other like it’s Calories Don’t Count day at IHOP and go to town.
In this film, an evil mirror caused a bro-sis duo’s parents to go on a murder-rampage. They survive the evil mirror/their parents and vow to grow up and get back at the mirror.
The movie opens up with the little brother being released from a psych ward for the first time in a decade. The psychiatrist says to him, “Seeing your sister will be nice, but she’s been in the real world not receiving treatment, so you need to focus on your recovery instead of whatever crazy she may harbor.”
The sister takes the brother out to lunch and starts talking about settling the parents’ estate, getting him a job, and finding a place for him to live.
Then she’s like, “Hey, remember that house where our parents died? I totally didn’t sell it. In fact, I brought the cursed mirror back — and put it back into the very same room! Who cares about your decade in the psych ward? We should pull an overnighter in this house.”
And they do!
And nothing happens!
It’s actually a quiet film about how they talk about their feelings in a fully-lit house. Then, at the end, they leave holding hands. There’s a moment after the credits where you see that they’re living in the suburbs in houses next to each other. Their partners and children are happily playing and there is no supernatural hanky-panky at all.
Did I get you? I feel like maybe I got you.
I didn’t? No? It’s because you saw the previews, right? Damn you.
Yeah, shit totally gets bad. Duh.
Do you ever get the feeling that horror movies were designed so you could feel smug about your own decision-making? Sure. I gained 10 pounds over the winter, but at least I didn’t purposely bring a cursed object into my home with an emotionally fragile sibling. You know?
Anyway, Amy Pond Karen Gillan does a really great job in this movie. Her accent’s weirdly flat (as English people’s American accents often are), but it goes with her character. Her character is very tight-laced in an effort to keep her crazy within bounds. A sort of affect-less voice works here. She’s not so much a person as part of a nightmare of her own creation.
The brother, however, carries the movie. A relative newb, he hasn’t been in much except some TV shows I’ve never heard of. But his career appears to be on the upswing: he’s in Maleficent and The Giver. His character’s “How is it possible I’ve been in a psych ward for a decade and I’m the same one?” schtick is great. He has a lot of emotions — protection for himself, fear of his past, love of his sister, frustration with her antics — that are played well.
I don’t want to ruin the ending or any of the plot, but this doesn’t end how you think it’ll end. It’s refreshingly dark.
People behind us brought a 10-year-old to this film. She left the theater crying. I don’t know if that’s an indication of terrible parenting or an effective horror movie, but there you have it.
If you like horror movies, you should check it out.