One type of movie I rarely pass on is horror movies. For whatever reason, I find it hard to not want to feel that thrill and scare that a good horror movie can deliver, minus the fact that I jump and cover my eyes pretty much through any high-stress scenes. This movie had a very interesting and confusing trailer. Two kids witness something tragic and one is charged with the murder of their father. One of the two kids is incarcerated while the other spends the same time trying to track down the ‘thing’ that caused the tragedy to occur. This isn’t anything new, of course not, and yet it is like watching a car fire, I can’t look away.
The movie shifts back and forth between what happened in the past and what was happening in the present. The two kids, brother and sister, Tim and Kayleigh, are reunited after Tim is released from a mental hospital for killing their father after he killed their mother. The two, at the time, agreed that an antique mirror caused the murder to happen. Now that Tim has been rehabilitated, he tries to reason with his older sister that an inanimate object can’t have caused those deaths. Kayleigh has tracked down the antique mirror and goes to great lengths to prove that the mirror is indeed causing people to act and perceive things in different ways than what is really happening. There is a great sequence early on where the two watch a recording of themselves, not realising they are doing the things they are doing.
Where Oculus makes interesting strides and keeps you engaged are in the build-up of the mystery. The jumps in time keep the viewer engaged, trying to understand how the sequence of events leads to Tim shooting his father in cold blood, enough so to be put away for ten plus years. The way the story unfolds, I was more interested in the mystery than the horror, but the ending left me feeling hollow and cheated. It made me realise that movies with unhappy or ambiguous endings generally don’t feel done, as if to say, did the author forget the last few pages?
What became more interesting to me was the way the movie played the concept of perception. I am currently reading Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, and much like the movie, the book focuses on how we perceive things the way we want to, regardless of whether or not it is true. By that same token, the movie takes events that have happened in the past, and present, and show how things may have happened one way, but could have just as easily happened another way. The effect of the supernatural in the story, of course, throws the entire idea off, but it is an interesting idea. The notion that you can perceive something, believe it to be true, yet it could be false and you don’t realise it makes you stop and just wonder about everything, as this movie could have done if the ending had more closure than it did.