Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 8, 2014

'Oculus' Is First-Rate Horror

There would seem to be some disagreement about the new horror movie Oculus. I would give it a top four stars, the Wichita Eagle gave it three, and the three ladies I talked to after the show varied from one who gave it four out of a possible five, and the other two who gave it between two and three.

The big complaint against Oculus was that it switched back and forth between present time and 11 years ago so often that it wasn't easy to keep track of the plot. I might also add that it switched between actual happenings and perhaps unreliable memories, as well as between supposedly reliable testimony and maybe lies, and at least some of the characters testifying may have been mentally disturbed. The resulting confusion didn't bother me because it was part of the horror that no interpretation of what we saw and heard quite made things clear.

Karen Gillan, a new actress to me and a very good one, was almost comically methodical in her efforts to get the facts through the kind of mechanical help TV ghosthunters use, but was suspected by her younger brother of being under some kind of a spell. But he had just emerged from a hospital for the mentally disturbed, and was furthermore supposed to have murdered his parents, which Gillan claimed had been done by the haunted mirror.

As events go on, there is increasing reason to suspect nobody is completely mentally reliable and that there may be a supernatural element at work.

Any number of spooky things happen, but we are spared blood and gore and pain. Oculus is a genuine horror movie of the old school, and a very successful one. And I'm not willing to give away anything more.