Review: ‘Oculus’ 9.3.14

I have a really hard time with American horror films these days. Why? Because I love the genre so much. And I constantly feel like every stab I take at seeing a film, I’m let down again and again. This has become more apparent in recent years. There are some exceptions. I enjoyed Scott Derrickson’s 2012’s – “Sinister” Jim Mickle’s “We Are What We Are” (2013), and James Wan’s “The Conjuring” (2013). I also really liked Rob Zombie’s “The Lords of Salem” (2013), but that was geared more to the art house crowd and hardly anyone I know saw it. Lately, especially with American horror, all I feel like I see advertised is one horror crap fest after another. Or another film in the line of carbon copy franchises (I’m looking at you “Paranormal Activity”). That, or the countless retreads or remakes of older classic horror films (I recently heard, though I guess it’s old news, that there’s actually a “Rosemary’s Baby” TV show). What is this world coming to?

Though every now and then an American horror film will pop up that piques my interest. This being one of them. It had been on my radar as I had seen that it was well reviewed. That, and I’ve always had a sort of underlying interest in horror films that take a ordinary premise and make something extraordinary out of them. In the case of this film a “haunted mirror that shows you things you don’t want to see”. After Alexandre Aja’s catastrophically bad 2008’s “Mirrors”, which was similar in concept but done with disastrous results, I found myself intrigued when the premise came up again. “Hopefully they’ll get it right this time around” I thought to myself. Well, what we do have right here is we have a somewhat effective, creepy enough, psychological horror film that succeeded on some levels. And then not so much on others. The setup revolves around a mysterious mirror that was once owned by a family who purchased it as an antique when they move into their new home. The mirror then takes many shapes and forms as do the inhabitants of the house. Though in good ole’ horror ghost story fashion the kids rise up to the defense of their family. A number of years go by, and the kids; now grown ups, buy back the mirror in hopes of figuring out why some of the things that happened to them did, setting off a new series of events. Sounds tacky? Well, it is. But it also produces some geniunely scary moments. They just happen to come at you a little bit too far in between each other. That, and with what almost seems to be becoming a tradition in American horror these days, they try and pack a tad too much of a punch towards the end. That being said, it manages to retain a pretty creepy vibe throughout, and when the punches do come, they’re somewhat exciting. What I can say it’s certainly better than the average American horror film these days. But still, that’s not really saying much.

Grade: C+/B-