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Friday, April 11, 2014

OCULUS... Must Have Used Windex For that Scare-Free Shine

I enjoyed about 65% of Oculus. I suppose the hype machine worked its mighty magic and led me to believe that I might actually see another Conjuring. Another Insidious. Another ghostie story that might creep me out or make me unable to stare into over-sized, antique mirrors. We're not quite there unfortunately. As I speak there's a French door to my left, and I'm not even phased by the reflective nature of it at night. I am not scared right now nor was on my drive home. I do not expect to see silvery eyed contact wearing dead folk meandering around my house. It's a Blumhouse movie, and as Shawn Savage and Jeff Konopka from Dead Air will tell you, that company generally gets the job done. No wasted money at the ticket booth when you go to see a Blumhouse movie. Until of course I feel slightly bamboozled with Oculus. The adverts on TV, the PR machines and the special web promotions intrigued me in a way that I despise. I try to avoid most of that shit any more. It only seems to raise expectations rather than get my ass in a theater seat. I was going anyway!

The only fear I have now... is of strange weighted devices and kitchen timers. The only suspense throughout the whole thing was based around this very combination of objects. I'm not entirely sure that it's something I'm afraid of or something I now have a strange correlation between. Some nice effects. An cast that gets the job done, but didn't emotionally attach me save for the child actors. A good looking film with a few Poltergeist moments and perhaps a hint of The Gate here or there (just flash pan moments and not little demonic creatures coming out of a hole in the backyard mind you). Yeah, the folks with the silvery/reflective contacts can be a bit creepy in any movie especially when Blumhouse backs it. That's definitely part of the 65% I dug. Not hating the characters goes a long way too. Why bring apples and water bottles to a war with a haunted mirror? Fuck if I know, but it makes for some gruesomeness.

I would like to mentions something... pay attention to the audio in this. While the score isn't always solid, there's some great use of booming sound to create a feeling of near nausea midway through the flick.

I dislike writing up movies that I'm not completely stoked for so this is going to be a short one. Do not watch this on acid or other hallucinogens. In fact you may not even want to see this one drunk or stoned because it's all over the place. Yes, there's a workable plot but an unsatisfying finish. For everything you sit through, for all the chaos, you demand order when you leave the theater. If you don't get the order you either feel cheated or thirsty. I'm thirsty for a cohesive entertaining ghost story right now after just going to see a supernatural flick in the theater. That probably means Oculus didn't do its job. Slowly build me into a strange, sensory disturbed way and then fail to "reset" me? That's just mean. Seems like the reviews have been overly positive thus far, and I'll probably give it another watch on home video. I did really enjoy Mike Flanagan's Absentia.

Oculus is out now. I'd love to know what ya'll think, and I'm positive there are those among you who will truly enjoy Oculus. You'll even call it one of the best movies of the year. It's far from that for me, but it's also not the worst thing I've seen this year.  It's a great date movie. You're significant other will cuddle you. Plenty of lighthearted scares with a few choice jumps scares to tie the whole thing together. One of 'em got me good. I had to do the whole "adjust the leg so I don't look like I actually jumped for the folks behind me". I crack myself up at times. The rest of the audience said, "It was better than Devil's Due" and they didn't like the ending, and these were a bunch of guys talking about the movie Funny Games (probably the remake).

If there's one thing I came away from Oculus with it was the concept that we should watch movies now, occasionally, with the perspective that the movie we are watching is a remake of another movie from long ago whether it actually is a remake or not. I imagined what Oculus would have been in it's original 1970's look starring Oliver Reed with a great big ol' mirror in an English mansion in the countryside with his overdressed kids and a house with way too much dark wood inside. Lots of violin and cello music in the themes. Plenty of upward looking camera angles to convey Reed as some sort of monster and his children, grown up played by David Warner and maybe Karen Black or Shelly Duval in the female lead. I imagine that "original" movie. In that version I get a bleak finish but I get a FINISH. A big ol' THE END.

-Doc Terror


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