Lights Out (2016)

lightsout_2016_poster
  • Time: 81 min
  • Genre: Horror
  • Director: David F. Sandberg
  • Cast: Teresa Palmer, Emily Alyn Lind, Billy Burke

Storyline:

When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out…and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger…once the lights go out.

2 reviews

  • While attending a screening for 2016’s Lights Out (my latest review), it felt like I was watching a student horror film or should I say, one of the greatest student horror films ever made. With a tiny budget of $5 million, only a handful of characters, and some effective jump scares (despite the fact that they were a bit familiar), “Lights” director David F. Sandberg makes this cinematic debut stylish and rather unsettling. He makes it his own.

    For what’s it worth, Lights Out is old school, nuts and buts movie-making. Its eerie, first 45 minutes reminded me of the fright fandom of yesteryear. Containing a simple concept in which a disturbing, Medusa-like apparition only appears in darkness, “Lights” is for the most part, effective until its novelty loses steam in the final act. This nifty little scare-fest is invariably small scale, a one-trick pony, a ghostly canard. I’m going to recommend it and also praise the raw performance of Maria Bello (a Chicago Film Critics Award winner) which elevates the acting cred of “Lights” to an even higher level.

    Containing a twist ending I didn’t see coming (it all made sense though) and produced by Saw man James Wan, Lights Out introduces us to a new breed of spectral villainy named Diana (she’s played by Alicia Vela- Bailey). Diana is a back from the dead mental patient, a unpleasant imaginary friend, and when the lights are off and it’s nighttime, she kills people by throwing them around like a sack of potatoes. Throughout the film’s short running time (an hour and twenty-one minutes plus credits), Diana terrorizes a small family (Maria Bello as depressed mother Sophie, Teresa Palmer as her daughter Rebecca, and Gabriel Bateman as her son Martin) until they can find a way to stop her.

    Director Sandberg taking his beats from 2013’s The Conjuring, plays with his audience by not letting them know when to flinch in their seats or not. My favorite scene overall (spoiler), is when Diana takes out two L.A. cops with loud gunfire blazing. It’s something else. Also, I liked the way the actors/actresses reacted with fear in “Lights”. I don’t wholly agree but most troupers say reacting is even harder than actual acting.

    Now if I had to pick one flaw in Lights Out, it would be the notion that “dirty” Diana can turn any house light off with her supernatural powers but can’t blow out a candle or suck the life out of batteries in a flashlight. Huh? I expected more from a ghoul who speaks like she’s smoked four packs of Lucky Strikes, moves from one dark room to another with lightning speed, and hasn’t had a manicure in decades. Ha-ha. Anyway, “Lights” isn’t the scariest movie ever made but if you’re game, it may do for incandescent lighting what Jaws did for not wanting to go in the water. I wasn’t entirely affected after I left the theater but as a ten-year old, it would’ve given me massive nightmares. Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog: http://www.viewsonfilm.com

  • “You should let me stay at your place, just for a night. Good luck with that one, buddy.”

    In the vinyl era (Indeed, I experienced those days as well) you could purchase an extended version of a single. The so-called maxi-single. Sometimes you were surprised by the extended version of the single because not so bad sounding variations were added in an artistic way. However, in most cases it was just a miserable elongated version with unnecessary repetitions and tedious long intros and outros. The final feeling was more like a slight disappointment and a sudden realization that the music industry tricked you again and took away your laboriously saved money in a shrewd way. A maxi-single wasn’t a guarantee that a sublime sounding music tune would sound even more impressive. I have the same feeling about “Lights out”. The short film (this movie is based on) went viral on You Tube and reached a very high level in terms of originality and entertainment. This version is nothing more than a stretched version with the same phenomenon repeating itself over and over again. And that’s an entity which is only visible when the lights go out. And believe me, there are a lot of non-functioning lights or incidents in which the lights suddenly stop functioning. An irritating number of times.

    People don’t feel at ease in the dark instinctively. Children and even adults are afraid in the dark sometimes. That’s is a form of self-protection. Protection against the unknown and against taking any risks. And that uneasy feeling is exploited in “Lights out” thoroughly. And the fact that the threat can be eliminated again and again by making use of a light source, is a unique feature that can be used in an interesting way. Sadly enough, the mystery and the origin of the creature is being revealed already early. No surprise anymore and less excitement. The only thing remaining in this typical horror are the acting and the use of jump scares. And fortunately this wasn’t so bad. Most horrors fail in this area as well. They try to scare you by showing scary or terrible, gory incidents. “Lights out” tries to instill fear by using that what you can’t see.

    You don’t need to wait long in this movie before the scary events start. Before you know it, you’re witnessing how this scary-looking creature wanders in the darkness and makes its first victim. A warning for heart patients. This first confrontation could result in a heart failure. And believe me, such frightening moments will occur frequently. This thing that dwells in the dark, looks extremely creepy and made me think of the phenomenon that could be admired in “Mama”. The next victims could be the young boy Martin (Gabriel Bateman), who still lives with his mentally unstable mother Sophie (Maria Bello), and his older sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) who apparently faced the same appearance in the past and therefore left home. In some way, there is a connection between the entity and Rebecca. A kind of materialized delusion that exists solely because of the depressive moods and the delusional state of the insane mother. That’s why it acts so aggressively towards persons that could disturb that relationship. Well, maybe I’m wrong but I thought this was the explanation of it all.

    As mentioned earlier, at times it’s really exciting and the movie will scare the wits out of you. The story as a whole is a bit of a setback and far-fetched. As I read somewhere on the Internet: “The script can basically be summed up as The babadook but dumb”. No complains about the acting though. The three main characters deliver a brilliant performance. Unfortunately, despite the original concept, they still used some predictable and weak options (such as a filing cabinet located in the basement with all the answers to hard questions being found). Sadly this feature film lacks the finesse of the short film. So, it isn’t really innovative. But it’s still entertaining enough.

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