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4 Reasons ‘Oculus’ is Far Different Than Most

Written by: David Beers

The movie Oculus is getting a lot of buzz right now, and for once, rightfully so. This movie is different than 98% of horror movies that are introduced each year, and it’s better than the other 2% that try to achieve what it has. Below are the four major reasons this movie stands out as a horror tour-de-force rather than a run-of-the-mill, paint by the numbers horror film. When you watch Oculus, you’re watching something different—here’s why:

  1. The Past Matters: The vast majority of horror films load their characters into a gun and pull the trigger, thus sending them on an unstoppable path with little to no character development or motivation. The movie is simply a series of different scenes meant to scare you. Oculus is different. Oculus spends an inordinate amount of time showing the history of the main characters. Indeed, half of the movie is spent in the past, but in doing this, we understand the characters’ fear in the present. We understand what the siblings have already been through, and we understand what the mirror is capable of before we see it in the future.
  1. Dread Not Gore: Any horror movie I dislike is probably going to use the reversal of this, preferring gore to dread. This is a mistake and one that most horror movies see through critic ratings if not in ticket sales. I blame the ticket sales on the idiocy of the American public. Oculus gets this part right, though. The movie isn’t a hundred different scenes of blood splattering or intestine eating zombies. It’s a slow burn, reminiscent of Paranormal Activity, in which the terror picks up notch by notch until at the end you’re wanting the damn thing to be over because your date is noticing you beginning to squirm.


  1. Characters are Not Idiots: You’re not watching a Texas Chainsaw remake here. The main female character is a strong lead, and one that knows what she’s about. She’s not showing off her tits or having sex with some random stud. She’s here to kill this damn mirror, and she’s planned out the entire path she’ll take to do it. Far too often horror movies throw stupid people into dangerous situations and then let you watch the carnage ensue. That’s not what happens here. You have a main character and a supporting character who are both capable, smart, and prepared—thus setting the movie up for a real battle.
  1. Introspection to Screaming: The two siblings in this aren’t running up and down staircases screaming and cursing. They’re talking. They’re thinking about their parents. They’re, ya know, acting like actual human beings. This lends a depth to the film that other horror movies stupidly ignore. Genuine horror rests in the psychological, not the physical. Oculus’ creators understand that, and as the movie goes forward and the characters dig deeper into what occurred to them as children, the fear mounts with each passing scene. Had these two been running around, tits bouncing and high pitched screams echoing across the halls, the movie would have lost the depth it possesses.

There are other reasons I can think of that separate this film from the legions of other horror movies that come out each year: no need for eerie music every scene, many subtle scares are greater than one large scare, etc. I think these four reasons above though let you know that Oculus is of a caliber far superior to the other films that are slopped out for us to consume year after year. This thing might not be on the level of Kubrick’s The Shining, and a shade less scary than Paranormal Activity, but it’s still a terrifying beast in its own right. A movie that is well done from start to finish, and one I hope the sequels (which are undoubtedly coming) can live up to.


David Beers is the author of two horror novels: Dead Religion and The Devil’s Dream, Book 1. He blogs on general musings and lifesaving advice at


About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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