Screenwriting

Night of the Naked Dead!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Oculus script issues

Oculus opened in movie theaters this past spring 2014 to decent critic reviews. As predicted, this horror movie was definitely a huge disappointment to all us horror fans. What this horror movie lacked was proper execution to tell the story of this cursed mirror. Furthermore, corny-looking deceased victims, kept showing up to remind us of this mirror's ominous power to manipulate perception.

Oculus script issues were prevalent from the opening credits. What bothered me most about this script was when Kaylie Russell (Karen Gillan) narrated the story of this mysterious mirror through continuous dialogue interaction with her brother Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites). The high point of tension in the third act suffered because Kaylie kept talking.

As this is a horror movie about a cursed mirror, we would rather see how this mirror murdered its victims, not be told how these former mirror owners died. Kaylie could have narrated these flashbacks, showing us actual events of these victims in action. However, she covers this story like a journalist reporting on a murder. Better execution is to enter into flashbacks and narrate these past events.

Oculus focused too much on withholding the history of this evil mirror. We kept hearing Kaylie refer to this mirror and we will avenge it later. Are you ready Tim? It's going to happen tonight.

This reminds us about scenes that delay information. Does he know? Will you tell her? Or how will she know? What are we talking about? Why is it so hard to reveal the truth?

Tell us something we don't know. Write this movie like Sinister, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Conjuring, Insidious, and other horror movies that are actually scary. We get lost in this mirror, trying to figure out why this unknown evil traps its victims and reflects their insidious doppelgangers.

We don't know what movie script is worse, Oculus or Pulse? Both movies are equally as bad. Unfortunately, Wes Craven penned Pulse and it was dead on arrival. Was it the premise that killed this movie? The dead killing the living through technology?

This Pulse movie is metaphorical of our current struggles with the new Information Age, where people are over dependent on technology. How ideas and effort are lost in cyberspace, shifting this attention away from traditional mediums and holding the younger generation hostage to games, phones, computers, apps, social media and text messaging.

Nevertheless, Oculus depends on exposition to tell this mirror story rather than employ descriptive scenes. Is it the director's fault that he also wrote this movie? It sure seems that way. We never get scared watching this wannabe horror movie. Mirror scenes can be scary (Poltergeist), but this movie lost us in the setup. The final nail in the coffin occurs toward the end.

Kaylie follows her confusing plan to defeat the mirror, tricking this evil into surrendering. Poor story development cheated the audience. Oculus is nothing like exorcism movies. In movies about demons and the Devil, we fear this evil and actually get scared because this subject matter is freaky and is borderline true. A mirror that traps past victims and collects new souls is a poor premise.

In any case, Oculus earned nearly six times its production budget back in the domestic box office. It must not be that bad for moviegoers to watch this ambiguous mirror murder fest project on the silver screen.

What are your thoughts about Oculus?



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