‘Oculus’ Movie Review Roundup: Is It Scarier Than ‘Paranormal Activity’?

Sat, April 12, 2014 2:57pm EST by 6 Comments

‘Oculus’ was released April 11 and critics are calling it the scariest movie they’ve seen in years! Click through to watch the trailer and find out what all the hype surrounding this new horror movie is about!

Oculus, starring Doctor Who vet Karen Gillan, was released on April 11 to rave — and terrified — reviews. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, click through to watch, read our review roundup, and tell us if you’re brave enough to see the scariest horror movie that some critics have seen in years!

‘Oculus’ Movie Review Roundup: Is It Scarier Than ‘Paranormal Activity’?

Oculus begins when Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) is released from a psychiatric institute and his sister, Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan), reminds him of their promise to “kill it” — the supernatural presence that murdered their family years ago and which sent Tim to therapy. The film jumps between the present timeline and the past, where the viewer sees the supernatural violence unfold on their family when they were children, and which ended in their father killing their mother.

Kaylie is obsessed with proving that a supernatural force living inside the mirror that was once in their old family home is responsible for murdering their family, but in the process she puts both herself and her brother in danger. Oculus is made more suspenseful by the fact that it’s not immediately clear whether or not there is a supernatural element at work, or rather the genetics of mental illness making for a pretty unreliable narrator.

‘Oculus': ‘Gorgeously Chaotic, Eerie, And Downright Frightening’

Here’s what the critics are saying:

The Nerdist

“Mike Flanagan’s Oculus is a gorgeously chaotic, eerie, and downright frightening horror film. I saw a late night screening of it, which was, I feel, a mistake. Its effects still linger. It’s more than just a taut thriller (which it is), a well-made movie (which it most certainly is), or a clever premise (which it has). It’s scary. And that’s not something I can say too often.”


“As the plot constantly shifts between modern day events and Kaylee and Tim’s childhood experiences as they witnessed their parents’ lapsing sanity, “Oculus”  becomes an effective allegory for the lingering trauma of familial dysfunction. The small ensemble meshes nicely with the sophisticated narrative approach: Thwaits, as the grown brother, maintains a credibly frightened demeanor as he worries that he might be going crazy all over again; Gillian, playing the Mulder to Thwaits’ Scully, continually strikes the calculated pose of a true believer even as her own insecurities slowly take over. Their collective fears of the unknown turn this rather basic premise into a sneakily profound meditation on more realistic concerns.”


Oculus is actually scary because it goes about its methods differently than most films in the genre.

The tactics of “scaring” with jump-scares are a far too common cheap trick among horror films. Yes, there are a few times when Oculus uses them, but they feel out of place within the context of the film, as if they were placed there because the studio said “that’s what people are coming to see.” The majority of the scares in the film are much more deeply rooted psychological scares, and it works really well.

Oculus will mess with your mind.

So, what do you think, HollywoodLifers? Will you be seeing Oculus? Or are you too chicken?

– Amanda Michelle Steiner

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Posted at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2014  

I saw this movie and I love a great horror movie. This movie started out slow. Sure they had to tell a story but 45 mins into the movie I still wasn’t sure if I came to see a horror movie. Yes I agree with Carl. After the movie got started you were not sure if you were in the past, present, future, if things were real or imagined. I HATED it.!!!! I went from bored after the 45 mins, to dizzy trying to keep up with all the jumping around. It was like someone was high making this movie.

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Carl Avery

Posted at 2:58 PM on April 14, 2014  

I saw this movie day before yesterday… and it is a real brain-twister. The true “horror” lies in the fact that you, as the viewer, are just as confused and uncertain of what’s real and what isn’t as the characters in the film are.

The interweaving of “past” and “present” is brilliant. After a time, you aren’t sure whether what you’re seeing is a flashback from the past, or something happening in the present… nor are you sure whether what seems to be happening to the “young” Kaylie is actually happening to her, or to the adult Kaylie… NOR are you sure whether it’s happening at all, or is just another hallucination created by the mirror.

In short, the movie drags you into the confusing and irrational “reality” being experienced by Kaylie and Tim– a reality in which you can’t trust ANYthing you see, hear, or feel. The real power of the movie lies in this inability to distinguish reality from hallucination, as well as the relentless and growing conviction that Kaylie, despite all her elaborate precautions, is no match for the mirror.

I didn’t find this movie all that “scary,” but I have never in my life seen a movie that does such an exceptional job of bending the viewer’s perceptions. Also, all of the actors, especially the ones who played the young Kaylie and the young Tim, did a smashing job.

If your notion of a good horror movie is one that concentrates on twisting your mind rather than just grossing you out with tons of guts-and-gore, then you will LOVE “Oculus”– the most brain-twisting movie I have ever seen!

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Posted at 2:01 AM on April 14, 2014  

Movie plot sounds terrible.., but the way it’s played out makes it into a brilliant finished product.

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Posted at 1:52 AM on April 13, 2014  

This is the dumbest movie i have ever seen

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Janet Castle

Posted at 3:22 PM on April 12, 2014  

Since there has been nothing scary in the films that have come out for years now, I have little hope for this one. If it truly plays on the mind then it might be at least worth a try.

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Chantel Keona

Posted at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2014  

I want to see this movie.

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