A brand new horror film, based on a short film and made by the same dude. If you missed it, I did a trailer trash with this trailer right here. But did the film live up to the status I thought it would?
Firstly, I want to talk about the actual theater experience. I don't normally do this, but this was one is worth talking about. I do not know why or how it happened, but this rated R horror film was FILLED with teenagers in it. And not 17 year old teenagers, I mean young uns. I didn't see a lot of parents, but they must have been there and then others probably snuck in. Behind my wife and I sat a nice sized group, including at least two teen girls and one teen guy, with an adult somewhere and I think maybe two more. They were awful in some of the most humorous ways. Like, the lead girl (the lead one being the one that talked the most and the other girl always asked what lead girl thought, so she seemed the most important of the two) LOVED the Geico commercial that is just fake bloopers with the Geeko. And the entire row all flipped out over how awesome Godzilla is gonna be but couldn't give any craps about Guardians of the Galaxy.
What did they think of Oculus? After the movie finished, one of the boys, teen or father I'm unsure, got up and declared "This was the worst movie." None of them liked it. They bad mouthed it the rest of the way out the theater, and I decided to sit and continue to listen. Do I agree with them?
Absolutely not. This movie is really REALLY good. Other than a few minor nitpicks (which I'll talk about in a minute) this movie is damn near flawless. Amazing acting, directing, sound design, effects, pacing, set dressing, cinematography, color, writing, plotting, everything. For the most part. Again, I'll talk about that in a minute.
How did the teenies behind me not like this thing? Well, I have a pretty good guess why. This is a true HORROR film. It is unrelenting in its atmosphere and its driving sense of dread. This isn't jump scares and SCARY THINGS and titillation and gore. This is not a slasher or one of the new wave of haunting films. This is just horror, terror as we watch our characters, our point of view, have to deal with this haunted mirror. I compare it to my favorite horror film of all time, Candyman (maybe an IHAF in the future?). Instead of being a slasher, it is a long character story about ... ok, plot time.
Two kids witness the torture and murder of their mother, and supposedly the son kills the father. The son goes to a mental hospital for 11 years or so while the daughter gets bopped around fostercare. But they saw something different, they saw a haunted mirror cause all the problems. Now, as adults, they have gotten their hands on the mirror and the daughter is hellbent to prove her father was a good man and innocent, and that the mirror is evil.
The film is a study in "seeing is believing" as a horror trope. It is very difficult to just share everything they do with it, but it is incredible, and like nothing I've ever seen before. They also play with every horror trope you can think of, but have good reasons for it all. Like, no one turns on the lights ... because it is day time and just an old house that has a lot of shadows but isn't ever dark. Or the skeptic, played by the son, who spends a very long time doing a GREAT job playing the skeptic to his sister's believer.
If you like horror, WATCH THIS MOVIE.
Ok, my quibbles. Because of the unrelenting pace, there is little time to breath. There is no joke breaks, no moments of levity at all. Once the movie starts, it is a 105 minute horror train without a single moment to stop. If your audience isn't mature enough for that, they will find places to laugh, because they need it. Also, because of that pacing, it makes certain sequences feel long. Not bad, not even unpleasant or uninteresting, but in the back of your head it is like "we've seen this VERY good scene for a long time, yeah?" My only other complaint is that of film geography, or knowing where people are. There was a small sequence where I got lost on where the characters are. Talking it out afterwards, I figured it out. The movie does not hold your hand, but as film savvy as I am, even I got lost a little. That could hurt the viewing of others, especially considering the unrelenting pace.
All that said, this movie was excellent. The Shining meets The Conjuring meets Paranormal Activity. If that sound good to you at all, you NEED to see this in theaters. Do it this weekend. Vote with your money, and give this film what it deserves, a really good showing at the box office. I really look forward to a sequel, maybe a whole franchise.
Also here's a gif finally.
See, I did it like this because of the unrelenting movie pace, get it!