Best Horror Movies of the Decade: Oculus is a simple kind of terror
All this month, we are counting down the 31 best horror movies of the decade and doing a closer look at why each one earned a spot on our list!
20. Oculus (dir. Mike Flanagan, 2013)
Mike Flanagan was one of the past decade's best and most prolific horror auteurs (he directed three films released in 2016 alone), and Oculus was his big breakout. Oculus is a movie about a scary mirror.
Beyond that, though, it's a movie about not being able to trust anything. For whatever reason, and thank god Flanagan never tries to explain how the mirror got haunted, this piece of living room furniture can change what you hear, see and feel as long as you're nearby. Two adult siblings, one played terrifically by a pre-Marvel Karen Gillan, try to "beat" the mirror years after it destroyed their family. They don't have much of a game plan beyond "Stand in the same room as the mirror and set up a gigantic Chekov's gun," but their ill planning leads to a string of jolts that skate the line between psychological and physical. There are a couple moments you can't believe he got to first-- Why aren't there more movies where a person accidentally bites into a lightbulb?
That Flanagan is adapting Stephen King books like Gerald's Game and Doctor Sleep now makes perfect sense. Oculus makes a banal thing terrifying, examines family trauma over an extended period of time, isn't afraid to get mean in service of an existential scare... it touches on many of King's pet themes. Flanagan's popular The Haunting of Hill House series also proves he's a master of adapting expansive horror lit to the screen. But when he wants to make something that's pure film, i.e. when he wants to lock two people in a house with a mirror and a video camera, he can still mess you up just fine.
See the entire list here.