Oculus, a Reflection

Oculus

As a movie, Oculus was fresh, unique, and interesting. As a concept, it made me a little nervous. The metaphorical sun this star system of spooks orbits is an antique mirror haunted by a particularly nasty spirit that gets its rocks off by screwing with people’s minds before driving them to suicide. You might think, “But if the spirit’s power is connected to the mirror, why can’t the protagonists just smash it?” First of all, this is a horror movie. How dare you suggest the obvious solution. Secondly, the mirror doesn’t just mess with minds; it peels them apart and drags out your deepest, darkest memories, tormenting you at a growing pace via vivid hallucinations. You thought you were smashing the mirror? Nah, you were just watering a plant. Have a gun pointed at it? Double check you’re not pointing it at yourself. Lock and load!

OculusTim Russel (Brenton Thwaites) just got released from a mental institution, supposedly fixed after suffering a particularly nasty and mirror-oriented childhood trauma. His big sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) has followed the Lasser Glass to an auction house, and marks it for “repair” so she can transport it to their old family home and set the record straight. With recorded evidence of ol’ Lassie Glassie’s supernatural nature, big sister can finally prove to the world that in fact the mirror killed her mother, not their father, who was driven to violent insanity by Lassie’s aura. See, the problem there is, Kaylie is afflicted by the teenage delusion that she’s invincible to Lassie’s influence, and Tim has been mentally “fixed” so meticulously that he initially doesn’t want anything to do with the project when his sister lays down the brass tacks.

Through a system of timers, cameras, and one weighted mirror-cracking killswitch on a timer, Kaylie hopes to threaten the mirror into defending itself against the threat of destruction, consequently recording tangible proof of its supernatural influence. It sure seems like a great idea, until the siblings start experiencing none other than violent, vivid hallucinations that take them right back to the darkest days of their childhood. And yes, they’re not allowed to leave. Not until the haunt is done with them.

See, due to the psychological nature of the Lasser Glass’s power, the backstory and the present are interwoven seamlessly, to the point where you wonder what’s real and what isn’t. Not only are Kaylie and Tim having flashbacks that shut off their awareness of the present, they’re also prone to normal hallucinations that screw with them to the same extent. Seriously, Kaylie goes to take a bite out of an apple and it turns out to be a light bulb. Or does it? I’m not gonna tell you because it would be spoiling one of my favorite moments.

OculusYou can get your hopes up for the Russel siblings, but you probably shouldn’t. Oftentimes the human mind is the only thing that can conquer deranged killers and spooks, but without that… You’re even more screwed than the idiots who keep leaving machetes and chainsaws next to the supposedly dead murderer’s body. Basically spoiled the nature of the ending, but at least you get to wonder just how catastrophically they fail!

Kofi Outlaw of ScreenRant was none too happy with the ending, saying that it went out with a fizzle instead of a bang. I’m on the same page, but I do think Oculus is creative enough to warrant a curiosity watch and a rewatch for clarity at the very least. Kofi explains the origin of the film in his review, so if you want the full Oculus review experience, take a dive through here: http://screenrant.com/oculus-reviews-movie-2014/

Shrooms Takes You on a Bad Trip

Shrooms

Crawling out of the B-horror movie depths of contemporary hooligan shenanigans comes Shrooms, the tale of a group of friends who go to Europe to blow their minds on magic mushrooms. Only, one of them has a bad trip, and freaky things start happening. People wind up missing. Some die. And in the end, you’ll understand the entire movie after you witness the plot twist. … Shit, that was basically the entire synopsis. Good game, guys. A 10/10 review for a 4/10 movie. See you all next time.
ShroomsBeing serious for a brief moment, I almost enjoyed the flick because of the main character and the European friend. They’re the only two that aren’t absolutely obnoxious and utterly at odds with one another, and they’re also the only characters that are more than expendables. Tara, the blondie, eats a super-dangerous mushroom that Jake, the shroom expert, says will give you superhuman strength and foresight if you survive its initial effects. After she has a seizure and is put to bed, Jake tells a spooky story about a religious coven that holed up in the very woods they are to trip in.

And then all the horrors he described in his stories begin to happen in real life! Tara, oddly enough, claims to have foreseen each and every one of them. After the first death or two, everybody splits up and runs around the forest until there’s only one left. They run around the ramshackle home of the indigenous drooling duo, they barrel through the fort of the coven, and they have a small trek through the shallows of the lake.

ShroomsThere aren’t too many jump scares to worry about, as Shrooms instead favors an ominous, eerie mood created by Jake’s campfire story and the resulting disturbing hallucinations. I can’t guarantee constant, edge of seat tension, but I can guarantee an okay-why-not watch if you’ve been looking for a good horror movie for a few hours but can’t lower your standards enough to watch the truly bad ones.

Duncan Bowles of DenOfGeek provided me with a tidbit of information that was rather disappointing. Apparently Shrooms was supposed to be nouveau and not a rudimentary slasher. They really should have done more than rely on the hallucination aspect to set them apart, because once the twist is behind you, you’ll realize that it was just a big boring old slasher with mushrooms. That actually turns my 4/10 to a 3/10. Here’s the other bigger review that can better detail why Shrooms is uninspired: http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/friday-the-13th/6590/shrooms-review

Silent House is LOUD

Silent House

And full of clichés, for that matter. I do so love bash reviews. But first, I’ll teach you how make cookies. First, you grab a big dish labeled “psychological thriller.” Pour in a generous amount of “closeups and running away screaming,” then grate two blocks of A Tale of Two Sisters and give it a good shaking. Once it settles, toss in a big pad of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Slasher Film,” my favorite brand. Mix for 86 minutes. Then, nuke it in the microwave for twenty minutes. That horrible, sludgy mess that smells like rotten fruit? That’s Silent House.

I hope you enjoyed reading my cinematic cookbook as much as I enjoyed writing it, because I wouldn’t want to be alone in my chuckling. All silliness aside, the movie wasn’t exactly what many critics would like to call “good.” When the crowning moment of your film is the female lead flailing about with a pair of scissors and saying “no daddy no stop it hurts,” then you’d better have set it up properly, otherwise it’s going to sound downright stupid. And they really didn’t.


Silent HouseSarah
, her father John, and her uncle Peter go to the family summer home to pack it up to be sold. The power is out, and while they’re busy, Sarah encounters a strange girl who knows her very well yet she herself doesn’t remember. The movie hints at the importance of a little red box, but it’s the Chekov’s gun. They’ll fire it later.

Suddenly, transition into slasher film! Sarah is suddenly alone in the house, and her father has been severely bonked on the head! Watch in awe as she wanders around, avoiding humanoid apparitions that like to move objects and grab at her! See and be amazed as she explores creepy rooms that don’t deal in jump scares! I know the phrase “drags its ass” comes up a lot, but I feel it’s valid in this scenario. When a scary movie isn’t scary, all the tension building scenes just… Just cue the elevator music.

Transition yet again into the psychological thriller mode! Turns out her entire slasher experience was just a hallucination, and that one girl she met earlier was just part of her mind. Maybe her brain-sister, who has a tale to tell? See what I did there? Right, well, you find out her daddy beat her and raped her and took photos (the red box was full of them), and her uncle watched because why not. She kills daddy by bonking him with a sledgehammer, and uncle Peter gets a bullet to the gut, but survives. Sarah runs away all bloody. THE END.

Silent HouseIt’s… stale. It’s not fresh. I don’t care of Sarah is played by the Elizabeth Olsen, the little sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Silent House is like making chocolate chip cookies and forgetting to put in the sugar. And the chocolate chips. And the acting, for that matter. I’m sick and tired of the terrified girl/strong guy stereotypes you always see in horror movies. It’s boooring, so boring I’ll let someone else finish complaining for me.

TK of Pajiba, thank you. This is probably the best, THE BEST alternate review I could possibly link. 88 Minutes of Gasping and Cleavage. That’s brilliant, accurate, and hilarious. Also, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who the stereotypes irked. Oh, and, before I hand you the link, I’d just like you to know that the directors say that they filmed the entire thing in one take. I’d also like you to know that I DON’T GIVE A FLYING F- http://www.pajiba.com/film_reviews/silent-house-review-88-minutes-of-gasping-and-cleavage.php