In describing how slowly Oculus moves, I was going to say it has about as much story in it as a 20-something minute episode of the original Twilight Zone. But that is giving way too much credit to Oculus. This movie has received numerous positive reviews, with critics hailing it as a scary mind-bender. I think those critics must have rather simple minds. I’m with the critics who were not overly impressed; Ben Kenigsberg of the Times:
The elegant use of wide screen can’t totally obscure stiff acting, and the rug pulling finally seems arbitrary. When nothing can be trusted, the mirage of suspense disappears.
As I alluded to earlier, this movie takes forever to get going — nothing much happens in its slow first hour. And not slow in the building tension-sense. Slow in the wasting time and seemingly repeating scenes for no good reason-sense. In the final half hour or so a little dramatic rhythm is built, and there are a couple brief moments of effective drama.
This movie’s entire mechanism lies in going back and forth between imagined realities — but this is getting to be a tired trick. There are too many movies that do it much better, including the masterpiece Mulholland Dr. By comparison to the Lynch classic, this is amateur hour. And the worst sin for a horror movie — it’s just not scary. An example: at one point late in the film, the camera flashes to a pair of ghost figures, meant to spook us. I had a short chuckle instead — Oculus had just drifted into B-movie territory. 2/10