Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Oculus (2013)

A haunted house horror film with a difference.

There are some really interesting ideas about mental illness, childhood trauma, body image, collective hysteria, and also how we build narratives around our beliefs using flimsy and circumstantial evidence to re-enforce and justify them. Almost from the start out preconceptions are toyed with as the film does rather a nice switch-around with Gillan's maniacal character acting like someone with extreme bipolar psychosis and her, allegedly, mentally unstable brother being the voice of reason.

Unfortunately the second half ignores the ideas put forward in the first and retreats into familiar possessed object and haunted house territory with phenomena that are ever increasingly harder to blame on the main character's mental state.

There are nice touches of horror and a slowly building sense of dread. The continual flashbacks can be discombobulating but are needed to support the idea of how malleable and unreliable memory can be, especially when influenced by fear, paranoia and psychosis. If Oculus was a little more The Shining rather than The Amityville Horror then this would have been an outstanding psychological drama rather than just a very good paranormal horror film.

Original letterboxd review

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