Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oculus as an Allegory.

I'd been excited for and gone into the 2014 film Oculus thinking it would be an incredibly psychological story of horror. It was. But I spent most of the film swallowing that lump in my throat. It's a tragedy, too, make no mistakes. They did a good job of going for the heart and then the head, but the realism in it was almost too real.

The perfectly captured, in an other-worldly way, growing up in a dysfunctional household.

The walking on eggshells, the avoidance, the wondering of whether you were interacting with the parent who seemed to care about you or the one who wished you didn't exist-and the horror when you mistook one for the other. 

The worst scenes were when the kids, overwhelmed with the madness in their home, tried to get help. Phone calls didn't work-the same demonic voice repeated a scripted phrase until it melted into gibberish. Outreach to the neighbors was brushed off as mischief, as wanting attention. 

If your emotionally abusive parent could even kind of hold it together in public, you were always dismissed, save for those who could look and really see beyond the thin veil. And, most of the time, even they can't help. The powerlessness of that was recreated almost perfectly. 

Mental illness and personality disorder, like the Oculus mirror, shatters entire families for generations. Like the mirror, it also has no "good guys vs. bad guys", for the ill themselves are trapped and suffering. However much you want to help, with things like this, there will never be any change without the willingness to undergo it...

The film, most importantly, shows the two ways of dealing with such a traumatic past in the two children, adults when the film first opens: acceptance and moving on, and becoming enmeshed. One gives you a chance at a better life, though you yourself must seek help in the form of therapy and healthy ways of coping with what you survived, and the other just leads to you being as trapped as the lost spirits in the Oculus mirror. 

No or low-contact, and finding healthy ways to draw out the poisons fed to you by those ill are the ways you survive such events, such backgrounds. You might lose family support, but those who can see behind the smoke screen will have known for as long as they have known you, and you can set out making and keeping healthy relationships much easier without dragging unresolved trauma around (it's heavy). I was incredibly fortunate, I had friends that are family in all but blood, which, to me, doesn't count for a lot, other than coincidence. The love of a support system make a greatest difference, but...

It is you that must do this healing, this inner work, with no expectation of help from those who were supposed to love you...and could not. The good news is- it's possible to do so. Self-care and trying to put together the best life I could for my children and myself and and my spouse has kept me together throughout, and it keeps me looking toward the future, instead of reliving painful moments of the past.  

As for the film, it's a good film. Really underrated for what it accomplished. I'm not sure what the writers and producers intended, whether this crafting to be similar to the dysfunction of a regular home was carefully sculpted, or an accident, but it spoke to me on that level; and it reiterates how important it is we use things like horror and fiction of all kinds in order to make sense of the senseless, to remind us of what matters. The scary stuff, however much people don't favor it in the mainstream, does that like nothing else. 

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