DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
WRITER: Eric Heisserer
Martin has every right to be afraid of the dark. After the brutal death of his father, his mother begins showing signs of a deep depression and a mental breakdown when he witnesses her speaking to what he believes to be her imaginary friend named Diana. Little does Martin realise that Diana has a really unhealthy attachment to his mother and will stop at nothing to keep everyone, including her own children from breaking that bond between them.
Lights Out is based on the 2013 short film of the same name. I remember when I first heard about all the hype that was surrounding the short film back in 2013. There was a ton of buzz coming off of the short after it screened at several horror film festivals. When I finally watched Lights Out, I absolutely loved it. It contained one of the most solid jump scares that I think I've ever witnessed in a short film let alone a feature film. I had high hopes for the film adaptation.
Now let's skip forward three years later. James Wan, director of Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 jumped on board as a producer to bring Lights Out to an audience as a feature film with original short director David F. Sandberg taking the helm. When I saw the films trailer, I had no idea at the time that the short was being made into a feature-length movie. I got even more excited when I saw James Wan's name plastered all over it. I had faith that they would be able to expand on the short film and deliver something frightening.
Lights Out, for the most part, is a complete scare fest. On my second viewing of the film. A lot of the set pieces still held up really well. David F. Sanberg knows how to craft a finely tuned scare. From the very first moment that the movie starts, David F. Sanberg does an incredible job of keeping all of that momentum and pacing moving along at such a quick speed, it rarely ever slows down enough to give the audience time to breathe. I found that the film for a vast majority of it's eighty-minute running time had me on the edge of my seat.
What Lights Out also gets right is that we care about these characters. Teresa Palmer who plays Rebecca, the older sister of Gabriel Bateman's Martin are fantastic in their respective roles. I was rooting for both of these characters whenever they were put in danger. I loved Teresa Plamer as the tough, take-no-shit, smart-ass sister. It was also great seeing her play a character who didn't fall to pieces every time shit hit the fan in this movie. Gabriel Bateman is a solid young actor. He is also excellent on the TV Show Outcast.
Maria Bello who plays their mother Sophie is fantastic. I think she is such a talented actress that it's hard not to take your eyes off of her. She does crazy very well. Now onto Alexander Dipersia who plays Teresa Palmer's boyfriend, Bret, my favourite role in the film. I'm happy that we finally have a boyfriend character who wasn't written as a piece of shit, afraid or abandons our lead character in times of chaos. He is so well written and a genuinely nice guy that I was rooting for him. I found myself yelling at the TV thinking they were going to have his character wimp out or betray our main character, which thankfully they didn't.
Visually, I found Lights Out to be a gorgeous looking film. This movie has some of the best use of light and darkness I think I've ever seen in any film period. Being that the movie relies heavily on our villain using the slightest shadows to attack people, it was excellent. The movies use of ultraviolet, the lights on camera phones, neon signage, and candles to light the film during the night sequences was great. I also think these added to the tension and suspense of the film.
I also really enjoyed the ending of Lights Out. For a studio-produced horror movie. I was expecting this movie to deliver a typical Hollywood happy ending. This film does the complete opposite. It spends a vast majority of the film having the audience on the edge of the seat and just when you think the main characters may get a happy ending, the movie has one last gut-punch that ends the film on a downbeat note. I wasn't expecting it at all, so it kind of blindsided me. The film contains some heavy themes of depression that build up to the ending which will get people talking. But I'm glad it ended that way as it couldn't have ended any other way than that.
Lastly, while I really enjoyed Lights Out, it isn't perfect. The movie does have a few issues that fall on character decisions and silly characters added to up the death toll. We have two police officer characters come into the movie during the final act which are so poorly written that you know they are there to add a higher body count. On my second viewing, I noticed that the fractured relationship between Rebecca and Sophia isn't exactly fleshed out. I'd have liked to see that given more time. If we ever get a prequel, we may also get more into the backstory of Diana and not just how she died.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone shoots themselves in the head.
- A wound from a scratched leg.
- Someone's eye and face scratched out.
- A person's face is scratched off.
- Someone is stabbed in the throat.
Lights Out which is based on the short film of the same name is an enjoyable, edge of your seat thrill ride. The movie is visually impressive and has characters that you end up caring for and want to see survive the ordeal. The film does have a couple of flaws that can be traced back to disposable characters and some of the writing around the character relationships and their decisions. These couple of upsets, however, don't take away from the fact that this is a scary and extremely well-made horror film.