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Oculus - Blu-ray Review

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Oculus - Movie Review

4 stars

Thank God for originality, even if it does make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.        

Based off the short film Oculus Chapter 3: The Man with the Plan; Oculus, directed by Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Ghosts of Hamilton Street) creates an intriguing complexity of genuine filmmaking. Upon viewing the trailer, I realized it should have come with a disclaimer, informing viewers that it does, in no way provide the justification trailers should. Surprisingly enough, the film is produced in part by WWE Studios, responsible for far less satisfying works such as The Marine, Walking Tall, and See No Evil… ahh product placement, if you can consider WWE superstars products.

Introducing The Russell Family, sort of like the Brady Bunch, except for the murder and torture of the wife by the father, and the incarceration of the son. Fresh out of a mental institution for reasons not presented to the audience, Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) must reenter society and begin his descent back into the norm of acceptable behavior, with the help of his sister Kaylie, (Karen Gillan). As the proprietor of an auction house, Kaylie crosses path with an antique mirror from her childhood which she believes to be the sole responsibility for the dismantling of her family years before.

Kaylie, believing that the mirror holds abilities to transform human action, the very actions carried out by her father, sets out to prove her theory correct, and abolish the reflective menace once and for all. Through flashbacks, which at often times do get a bit hazy, and intertwined, but still provide a nice landscape for the story, viewers are taken on a hell of a thrill ride.

As their father Allen (Rory Cochrane) loses touch with reality, reminiscent of Nicholson in The Shining, and their mother delves deeper into the crevices of disbelief, the children believe the mirror to be the sole suspect. As the line between distorted reality and conscious decision making becomes blurred, the gloves are off for a war waging with an inanimate object, which is far more titillating than I was originally led on to believe.

Teeming with beautifully suspenseful scenes, the film, through originality, recreates the new age thriller film. (I say thriller, because the film doesn’t set out to scare, only to create ominous scenes, which send chills down one’s spine, often causing me to look away at the sheer disturbing material). With a stand-out performance from Cochrane, and beautiful character juxtaposition, such that one sibling believes in the supernatural, while the other takes Freudian approaches, with psycho-analytic explanations to the anomalies witnessed, the film is quite a satisfying touch, if you can get past some of the often mind-boggling transitioning. In addition, the use, or rather disuse of sound in the film, allows for the construction of scenes with an unforeseeable outcome, often ruined by other films, who rely too heavily heightened background music.

Oculus - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language.
Runtime:
105 mins
Director
: Mike Flanagan
Writer:
Mike Flanagan; Jeff Howard
Cast:
Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
You see what it wants you to see.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Hey Dad, who was that lady in your office today?"
Distributor:
Relativity Media
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 11, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No detials available
Synopsis: A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon located within a mirror.

Oculus - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 5, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy
Region Encoding: A

Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1, Oculus – due to its digitally shot format – has expressive details layered throughout.  Interiors are purposely dim and exteriors are crisp.  Levels are sharp throughout and facial/clothing details are expressive.  The color palette is a bit on the cooler side but there is a nice digital texture to the events.  The Newton Brothers throbbing electronic score sounds amazing in the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that accompanies the release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Flanagan and producer Trevor Macy provide commentary for the feature itself, definitely worth a listen if you like a good technical discussion (among other reveals, Flanagan emphasizes how tricky it was to shoot the film out of order and with two separate casts as the flashback scenes and present day ones often overlap).

Special Features:

As I pointed out, Oculus looks and sounds custom made for Blu-Ray.  The special features include Flanagan’s original short with commentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and your typical behind the scenes featurette.  

  • Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy (10 min)
  • Oculus Chapter 3: The Man With The Plan (32 min)
  • Inside The Mirror: Creating Oculus (10 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

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