Lights out, i.e. the reason why we are afraid of the dark

Lights Out (2016) is a horror movie directed by David F. Sandberg – who made his debut with this flick – and it came out last July. The film was overhyped due to the short of the same title, which has received tons of praises ever since it appeared on the social media in 2013.

The idea the movie starts from is pretty original. Well, I better say it is refreshing compared to the bunch of meaningless horror flicks realised in the last few years.

Still, the plot is rather simple. A family composed by a looney mom, a fragile – and good looking – daughter with her cliché boyfriend and a young kid are trying to figure out what is wrong with the mother herself. Because, of course, she is haunted by a demoniac presence. Cool thing though, the four of them can see the woman-like demon just when the lights are out.

And this is one of the movie’s strengths: the director and the cinematographer – Marc Spicer – did an impressive job managing the contrast between light and dark. Throughout the first two acts of the movie, tension and anxiety are implicitly connected to the dark while tranquillity and ease are linked to the light. However, said balance is screwed towards the end, which is a shame and it kind of ruined the previous part.

The other aspect I liked and I think it is worth mentioning is the whole look and feel of the movie. Mostly thanks to the mom’s performance – Maria Bello, thumbs up – a depressing and unsettling atmosphere is maintained through the entire movie runtime. Which is just 80 minutes – good job Mr. Sandberg.

However, Lights Out has flaws. Many flaws. First, the acting – beyond Maria Bello, the other characters are completely bland. Both the daughter and her boyfriend are not sympathetic characters and the audience do not care about them. This is never a good sign.

Unfortunately, the son is even worse. He is annoying as hell. Okay, I know it is not easy to hire young good actors and I am not even pretending to deal with the Haley Joel Osment – The Sixth Sense – or Noah Wiseman – The Babadook – kind of guys. Those two were Oscar-worthy actors and those movies are masterpieces also thanks to their performance. Still, the son was completely miscast.

Another issue is the one about the plot. The core idea could be considered somewhat original, but the fulfilment turned out to be cliché and clumsy. The worst thing is that, at the end, nothing makes sense, so that the mystery fairly built throughout the film ends up abruptly with no explanation whatsoever.

And then… oh gosh. The jump-scares! This movie was filled with corny and fake jump-scares backed up by lame score and unclear shots. In the movie defence though, there was almost no shaky cam and sometimes – but rarely – the jump-scares served a purpose.

All in all, I cannot suggest to watch Lights Out in all honestly. However, being the first feature-length Sandberg’s movie, it was entertaining and the short runtime made it never really boring.

Check out the short this movie got inspiration from instead – lights out short – which is way creepier and with a creature way scarier than the one portrayed in the film. Cheers.

Horror World & Reviews

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