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The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus 
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Post The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
If you had told me that the movie I would love most from the years of their lord 2010 - This Day in Herstory would be a horror film about a supposedly haunted mirror, I would have slapped the syringe from your hand and told you to get off the funny powders. But it turns out you were right. *hands over your heroin*

2014's Oculus, about a very long night between a boy and his sister and their family's mirror, is some kind of masterpiece. Scary without being suffocating and beautifully made without being self-consciously stylish, this is the great work I'd been searching for over the past couple of years.

Before writing further (and let's face it: why embarrass myself with a really long post that will get ignored) I ask this: has anyone else seen this? found it moving? loved that it was successfully meaningful by never resolving the central mystery? Maybe you liked how atmospheric it was!

I urge some of you to seek this one out. I'd like to see what others think and offer a few critical thoughts as well. I'll return to this thread if and when there's some potential. Until then: hit that Redbox.

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:32 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
I liked the film thought i wouldn't call it a masterpiece of cinema.


Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:38 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Meh, I wasn't too impressed with it as it's nowhere near a masterpiece. Dustin's review sums up my thoughts pretty well:

http://www.dustinputman.com/reviews/o/14_oculus.htm


Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:49 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Any of the brighter and/or more observant members interested in seeing this? There's actual substance and things to discuss other than it being good or meh. Take the risk! Don't further poison the well!

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:00 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
I saw it back in July, and thought it ok, but not exactly spectacular either. I do actually still remember it well at least, which is always a good sign.
Still I'm not quite sure what you liked so much about it. I do generally give a bonus point for:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the everybody dies ending or otherwise nihilistic story (the latter applies to Oculus), especially horrors

but other than that there isn't anything remarkable about it. Not really scary/shocking at all either, which really is something a truly great "horror" must deliver by definition.


Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:18 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
nitrium wrote:
Still I'm not quite sure what you liked so much about it.


Allow me to list a few things.

- I loved how it accurately, to my experience, captured the dynamic that families have with their own memories of the past. That no matter how inaccurate these memories may be they guide people into what they believe is right, is actually destructive.

- The editing in several sequences served to be just as disorienting, and yet completely coherent, as intended. The atmosphere was very carefully established and proved to be infectious, served to make me empathize with these characters and their confusion.

- The relationship between the siblings and their short-sighted struggle with events transpiring over a decade before reminded me of my relationship with one of my siblings. This kind of personal connection is often necessary to make a good movie great and, in my case, possibly make me a terrible objective critic of the film. I'll recognize that as possibly bad criticism and then recognize that it doesn't matter to me in this case. Back to the movie: once again, I empathized with both sibs as they tried to recognize and disregard the craziness in one another.

- It's never properly established whether the mirror is anything but a mirror. It seems as if something supernatural is going on but a case could be made that these kids are battling something that's only best represented by a metaphorical mirror. Could be a piece of glass. I liked how it didn't matter, how the mirror had to take all the blame when no person could. And what that means about the kids.

- The end, which is both obligatory and completely inevitable, worked. It cemented the theme on how these people were in a loop of blaming, destroying.

I found the movie scary but let's be honest: it may be categorized as a horror film, it may have some images we associate with those, but it (in my opinion) transcends the general limitations of "horror film". Most films of that genre don't even bother trying anything creative. This movie, with it's multiple points-of-view, seemed original even when it sometimes gave us the familiar.

I'll be in the minority here and that's cool. But I don't think this one should be dismissed too quickly.

A quick note: I declare a moratorium on describing things that aren't nihilistic as nihilistic.

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:53 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Mark III wrote:
A quick note: I declare a moratorium on describing things that aren't nihilistic as nihilistic.

Another quick note, even if I'm 100% wrong, you know what I mean, so the point is sorta moot (I'm a firm believer in the evolution of language - if a particular word is given a new "meaning" by popular demand/usage, then that just is what it is and you have to learn to live with it). But as a glutton for punishment I'll bite anyway. "Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value." (from the Wikipedia - so feel free to edit it if you disagree). In the context of films I gather this definition is generally considered to be met when the protagonist(s) has effectively wasted their time/energy/life trying to defeat whatever it is they're fighting (often, but not necessarily, because they're dead). i.e. their life had no "objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic value" as far as the ending of the narrative is concerned, ergo nihilistic.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
This condition is imo met by Oculus (i.e. neither protagonist need have bothered with their stated goal since they affected exactly nothing with regard to the existence or power of the mirror and so would have irrefutably(?) both been better off having done nothing whatsoever and left the thing alone), but strangely imo not quite by Martyrs (which is widely considered one of the most nihilistic films ever made).
Presumably, I'm missing something.


Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:35 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Big_Mike wrote:
I liked the film thought i wouldn't call it a masterpiece of cinema.


Agreed. It's no masterpiece but it's definitely one of the better horror/psychological thrillers of recent years.

I especially like the ambiguity of the ending. A very cleverly written film. Solid acting too by the brother/sister duo as well as Katee Sackholf.


Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:10 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Mark III wrote:

- The relationship between the siblings and their short-sighted struggle with events transpiring over a decade before reminded me of my relationship with one of my siblings. This kind of personal connection is often necessary to make a good movie great and, in my case, possibly make me a terrible objective critic of the film.


Haven' t seen Oculus yet, but I couldn' t agree more with this comment. Many times I have found myself loving a movie because it connects with my personal experiences. Other people just don' t 'get it' because their experiences are different. I could go on writing about this, but the topic is specifically about Oculus, so I stop here.


Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:47 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
There are a number of ways to look at a film and, since the majority here are educated and thoughtful to some degree, we may agree that "I liked it, this was good and so it's all subjective" is almost complete garbage. That being said, the film had things in place that would make it a good example of an objectively fine film that has the extra touch of being subjectively meaningful.

In a different world, we'd discard the notions that subjectivity solves it all. It surely isn't bulletproof. And it isn't even fair to the films or novels or whatever being evaluated. I say this to explain why a movie that was ignored deserved better: it was merely "good horror" without much consideration of its transcendent qualities. Those qualities that won me over, completely subjectively. But the foundation must be there, there absolutely needs to be objective excellence first.

I recently rewatched Peter Jacksons Dead Alive (to date the most successful movie the guy has made) and could see the genius beneath the material on top before taking delight in the insanity on the surface. That's what I mean.

I hope this hasty message is clear. This iPhone is old and unreliable.

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Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:59 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Mark III wrote:
If you had told me that the movie I would love most from the years of their lord 2010 - This Day in Herstory would be a horror film about a supposedly haunted mirror, I would have slapped the syringe from your hand and told you to get off the funny powders. But it turns out you were right. *hands over your heroin*

2014's Oculus, about a very long night between a boy and his sister and their family's mirror, is some kind of masterpiece. Scary without being suffocating and beautifully made without being self-consciously stylish, this is the great work I'd been searching for over the past couple of years.

Before writing further (and let's face it: why embarrass myself with a really long post that will get ignored) I ask this: has anyone else seen this? found it moving? loved that it was successfully meaningful by never resolving the central mystery? Maybe you liked how atmospheric it was!

I urge some of you to seek this one out. I'd like to see what others think and offer a few critical thoughts as well. I'll return to this thread if and when there's some potential. Until then: hit that Redbox.


Not seen it, but I will based on your recommendation.

Good to see you're still alive and (presumably) not incarcerated

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Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:00 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
NHG is one of the guys that finally convinced me that logging back in wouldn't be so hazardous to my health. Plus I didn't have an email address to contact him at.

Now back to my cell I go.

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Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:09 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
So just finished this one and I think I could quickly summarize my feelings on it like this

Image

To enumerate though. If Oculus is any indication, than director Mike Flanagan can most definitely say goodbye to crappy TV shows and embrace a future in horror films. The pacing is perfect, lending itself to the slow build atmosphere that seeps under your skin about as effectively as any ghost story film I've seen since the first Paranormal (and I'd argue that as an overall film this is better). The editing perfectly compliments the film's plot machinations, the dual story lines coalescing brilliantly to delirious effect. The acting is really good all across the board, even from the kids. Moreover though, it's characters are as important to its success as all the technical aspects and it treats them as such. Without the relationship between the brother and sister and their history, this film wouldn't have been nearly as effective. Thanks Major, kinda loved this one.

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Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:54 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
YES! I felt like a man alone! I can't tell you how satisfying it is to know that I've found my my McCartney. Or Lennon. You can be McCartney. I'll let you have that.

The entire movie was like those early scenes in The Exorcist when Ellen Burstyn is talking to everyone around her about how that's not her daughter up there flopping about on a bed. I recaptured that feeling many times during Oculus and was reminded how scary it is to understand someone who is completely out of their mind. Which reminds me of what a psychiatrist friend told me about talking with schizophrenics: "You'll never have to explain yourself or your feelings twice because they understand immediately, even when they're lost." Something like that, at any rate. Watching those siblings try to understand one another, even when they refused to listen to reason, was uncomfortable and more human than movies often allow.

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Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:23 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
This is coming to Netflix December 3 if anyone wants to add to Mark's conversation. I'll be watching it and hoping that I join you in your opinion, Mark.

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Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:11 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Sounds like a similar approach to a Ti West film, at least the ones I've seen. Old School horror, ratcheting up the tension withouth actually showing anything graphic, relying on mood and shat's NOT in the shot to create the atmosphere, until you actually get the big scares...

Have to put this one on the list..


Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:17 am
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
MunichMan wrote:
Sounds like a similar approach to a Ti West film, at least the ones I've seen. Old School horror, ratcheting up the tension withouth actually showing anything graphic, relying on mood and shat's NOT in the shot to create the atmosphere, until you actually get the big scares...

Have to put this one on the list..


Yes, please do. It's a little more graphic than Ti West's two notable films but very much along the same lines in that the filmmakers aim to create dread rather than revulsion. It also has a fair bit of pathos, something that the majority of horror films don't often bother with.

Speaking of which, I saw one of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes I've ever seen the other night. Was called 'Night Call' and was written by Richard Matheson (no big surprise as he wrote so many) and directed by Jacques Tourneur of all people. Immediately decided to take a break from considering movies I am probably not going to watch anyway and dedicate some time to watching the episodes I haven't yet seen. And now back to doing stuff with family and family of family.

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Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:10 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
If it's on NetFlix, i'll smash it next week.

Wouldn't let our Mark down before his next 12 months stint in the French Foreign Legion :)

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Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:33 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
It's the duty that keeps myself, Pedro, Jjoshay, Pete, Shade, wisey, ram1312, Ken and a good number of others so busy. Though our ghosts may haunt this place 100% of the time, we all may show up here and there in order to voice an opinion or try to win a round of Make James Berardinelli Watch and Review a Movie. We all trust that the rest of you will keep things clean and make scintillating conversation about the latest trailer for Lego Movie 2: We Can Only Afford Canadian Mega Bloks This Christmas, Children. Great fucking trailer, by the way. They really nailed the look of profound disappointment and CGI couldn't have touched that shit even ten years ago.


Keeping the institutional memory alive, but just barely, is what we mighty few aim to do. We're the electronic ninjas who sneak in just when you thought we couldn't possibly be bothered and turn the threads upside down. And then we're gone, like electronic ninja thieves in the night. Our silence speaks volumes and often the contributions we don't make are as carefully orchestrated as those contributions we do. Bad pennies all, we are fitted with the with the machine-punched likeness of Guy Fawkes as we consider the best possible way to integrate our hilarious witticisms into a single line review of Ralph Sharknader: Corvair Ahoy! And then we leave knowing that the main business is now more robust than Stephen Hawking in a triathlon. I, for one, was thrilled that made it into the latest biopic and really admired the CGI when Hawking fought the dinosaurs. Christ, it was so real in IMAX that I thought I could reach out and punch a velociraptor.


We all know it's inevitable that this motley crew, this team Forum Legionnaires, will go. But we'll come back. And then we'll go. And come back. And go again. Because that's what we do. That's what we do when we're not doing something else. And because Something Else is always going to become Nothing Right Now we remember our passwords and we log back in and we say, as a chorus, the following:

This week it's three fucking stars for EVERYTHING Berardinelli has coming up. And we say it even if the movie takes place in outer space and features dwarves, a dragon, and a mind-fucking Natalie Portman dressed as a black egret. Because, I'm telling you, we feel in our heart of hearts that the movie is probably going to make Berardinelli shoot his wad so hard that everyone else in the theater will swear on the graves of their mothers that some movie critic just fired a laser from his pants... but it just doesn't look so great to us. And then we're wrong and MAN we should have gone with our guts! Now nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to make that guy watch a Sharknado sequel.

So I say to those who wear the decorative armbands of the Forum Legionnaires: enjoy it while it lasts. Because it won't be forever. It'll be for a while. Then: silence. Then we're back. Then: silence. Then we're back. But for how long? Could be a week, could be a month, could be the first trimester of the rest of your lives. But we'll be back. Then we'll leave. But for how long?


We wish, truly, we had what it took to stay in semi-permanence. But we must go. And come back. And go. And come back. That is our state of being and we liken ourselves to the most ambitious case of herpes simplex you've ever had. Just when you think we're gone for good, your date knows you've been into some strange and disgusting shit.

Keep a light on for us, won't you?

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Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:35 pm
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Post Re: The Glorious Unsung Masterpiece Called Oculus
Locke!

Now you get it ;)

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Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:11 pm
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