Sunday, August 10, 2014

Oculus



Oculus has a heroine (who plans to destroy a mirror she blames for an evil that befell both her parents when she and her brother were terrorized as children) that insists on recording a history of the mirror and the owners it killed. Also, she plans to record activities made by the mirror in order to prove its malevolence. The mirror can manipulate and cause those who look into it to experience hallucinations and commit acts accidentally due to its influence. Victims were dehydrated (one owner was over 300 pounds and looked svelte not long after taking possession of the object) or began to do horrendous things to themselves or to others all due to the evil influence of the mirror. Just being in the vicinity of the mirror can cause occupants in its possession to do things they aren’t aware of (removing a band aid results in the father of the heroine tearing off his finger nail unknowingly), plants are fed and deteriorated till death, canines experience “changes” before disappearing, those afflicted by its influence hear or see things (the heroine’s mother believes her husband calls her ‘a grotesque cow’ and the heroine, as a child, thought she saw a woman in her father’s home office, but it was a figment brought to life by the mirror), and ultimately owners are battered shells of what they once were (teeth removed, malnourished, often badly beaten, and psychologically emotional wrecks).

Debates about whether or not the mirror is a real supernatural force or a disturbance of the mind (or both) are hotly contested between brother and sister, but Kaylie’s admission of the woman in the room and how it preyed on the mother’s state of mind (and emotions), even if Alan was innocent of it (not what the mirror turned him into), is a key component in all the eventual mirror’s antics and devilish hi-jinks going forward. The film opens with Tim "rehabilitated", having spent a portion of his young life (all his teenage years) in an institution, and believing he can now move on as an adult. However, sis wants them to "keep a promise" in killing the mirror and in dragging Tim back to the whole mess that fucked him up to begin with would seem like an immoral error in judgment on Kaylie's part. Tim might have been able to do something constructive besides once again staring down evil that would puppet him around, while Kaylie ends up ruining everything her life had become (a fiance that loves and adores her, a life in auctions and artifacts from the past) by confronting the very thing that took away her parents so efficiently.

Tim and Kaylie, both as children (played by good young actors, Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan) and adults (Doctor Who’s red-headed beauty, Karen Gillan, and Brenton Thwaites), undergo horrific crises (biting into an apple results in Kaylie actually chewing into a light bulb, or so she thinks; reflections of the past alternate with the present and such memories continue to haunt them, as does the mirror torment them during their current reunion with the damned thing; phone calls outside the home reach the same exact voice, informing them that the mirror understands how to use technology against them as well) thanks to the mirror, and because this ill-advised battle was chosen against it, the results could be expected.


I think an argument about Kaylie choosing to match wits with a mirror that knows how to mentally mind-fuck you as being really unwise and foolish is apt. But the whole point of the film is to see how the mirror does to people. The parents and their children besieged by its influence, overcome and devastated by it would seem such a likely result. Bloodshed is almost always the conclusion for unwitting participants terrorized and manipulated by the mirror. The use of an electronic "anchor" that is set to destroy the mirror (but is used for something else entirely) and Katee Sackoff's tragic mistreatment by a possessed hubby Rory Cochran (by the end, she's animalistic and chained, chewing on shards of glass and choking her daughter in a rage) both feature the film's most ghoulish moments.

I think this is the kind of film that needs to work its spell on you gradually. Either you surrender to it or become bored quickly. This is all slow burn, with unease building over the running time. The mirror calculatingly absorbs the humanity of its “captives”, causing them to slip away from every fabric of what made them normal and decent human beings. I think the alternation itself might produce frustration, but the overlapping of past and present exemplifies just how the mirror works its menace over victims. Kaylie and Tim can’t escape the past or present and we see just what the mirror is capable of by experiencing what happened to them as children and adults. Fooling with this mirror does neither of them any favors. The ghouls and their mirrored eyes, in the dark, and those susceptible to the mirror’s power as symbolized through the unfortunate circumstances that plague Kaylie and Tim are what should leave a lasting impact. The shocker at the end didn’t surprise me…the mirror has a special ability and it has claimed so many victims, so why would this film’s be any different?

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Ms45 w

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The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

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Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

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