“Lights Out”(2016) | Film Review

Lights Out
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by David F. Sandberg
Produced by Lawrence Grey, Eric Heisserer, James Wan.
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Starting:  Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia.

The reason I wanted to see this film? James Wan produced it, and like I said on my previous review of his’ The Conjuring series, I will absorb as much of his awesomeness as I can. Truthfully, this is not as great as his other works, but leaps and bounds ahead of newly released horror ( I am talking to you “The Disappointments Room”).

It follows Rebecca, who lives away from home after assuming all of her childhood nightmares have been left behind. Soon she realizes her worst fears are also being realized by her brother, and that her mothers’ friend, who mysteriously only shows up in the dark, is manipulating her in some form. Alongside her boyfriend, her mother’s boyfriend, and her brother, they try to save her mother from the darkness around her, a creature/woman known as Diana, while facing their worst fears and uncovering the past.  

The film was a critically successful one, and even achieved to frighten the “scare-jump” bound audience, yet it was still criticized for focusing on giving their characters depth instead of more scares. This astounded me, as I never figured that a movie would be seen as less than because it  focused on inter-personal relationships. To me, that was its biggest win. I was able to enjoy the scares because I felt like I knew the characters enough to care for them, as their backstory formed the mystery each person displayed on camera. Much like in Oculus, I was given an idea of who these people were before they began to be “hunted”, it drove me to understand where their fear came from, making the panic all the more effective. 

But what saved the movie for everyone that simply wanted a simple scare, and what made this movie work as a full-length film, was its use of tropes to its advantage. Originally in short format, it used the whole “creepy woman in the dark that disappears when the lights are on”, to its full extent by giving the antagonist a clear reason as to why this was its modus operandi. The usually-throw away boyfriend/girlfriend was not throwaway at all, but rather a competent character that offered aid and material whenever needed, instead of just being there for “moral support” or to show the person as “another life” to worry about. It also used other tropes, but that is driving into spoiler territory, so I will not dwell in it, you can find them after seeing the film. 

All of this aside, it is an amazingly performed and beautifully shot film,, dark and creepy in all the ways it could have been. An enjoyable movie to cuddle in the movie theater with fear, it will probably leave you more afraid of the dark than we, as human beings, already were. 

P.S. The short film is effectively creepy.

★★★½

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