Directed by David F. Sandberg and based off of his short by the same name, Lights Out stars Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Bello and Alexander Dipersia. The story follows Rebecca, a young woman who tries to discover the dark and twisted past behind the recent hauntings of her little brother, her mother, and soon, herself. Will the family be able to survive this spirit that haunts the family with the ability to hide in the darkness, disappear in the light, and attack anyone while in the shadows? Let’s see if we care first of all.
I originally was a fan of the short which this film is based on. It has the same director and the actress from the short even makes a cameo in the film. I also saw that this was produced by James Wan, who is directing the upcoming DC film Aquaman, which I couldn’t be more excited for. So I had a lot of excitement going into Lights Out, but coming out, I can’t say that I was too impressed.
The main thing that Lights Out does well and its standout feature is its scares. Not the execution of them – it’s a lot of jump scares for the most part – but the thing it does well is it presents a reason to be scared. What I mean by this is its use of the dark. It is a basic human fear to be afraid of it. We all grew up with it and it makes sense that a horror movie should take advantage of it and make this fear the whole premise of the film. Unfortunately, I think the movie wraps itself up in its concept too much and forgets about everything else that matters.
Going back to that point about the types of scares in this movie, yes there are a lot of jump scares and some would say that’s a lazy way to do scares. I would agree, but it’s not the jump scares that bother me, I actually enjoy them. The reason I don’t like the scares in this movies is because we get the same scenario over and over again. Picture this; there is a dark room, a character is slowly walking over to the door, they open it and nothing is there. There is a lot of that. This same scare is used over and over again; it just gets tiresome after a while.
The bad doesn’t stop there though. I found the movie to have some weird writing as well. At some point in the movie a character says that ghosts do not exists. Okay, that’s cool. You have established the logic now. THEN HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE GHOST! I think it has to do with that character’s mental stability, but I thought it was just weird. Also weird is the reasoning and the story behind the ghost in the first place. That whole idea is explained in the middle of the movie where it just starts to slow way down. In the middle, you can clearly see this movie devote itself to being a plot dump. It just dumps all the exposition that you could need right on you.
That being said, I actually enjoyed the third act/finale of this movie. For some reason, it just kicks into high gear. There are some good, creative scares, some unpredictability, and some genuinely cool moments. This is where the best use of the monster in the shadow type of scare came into play as well. Through it all, I actually came out of the film, fairly satisfied. I know I harped on about its flaws but when all was said and done, I was still entertained through it all. The film had strange writing, decent acting, and an all too familiar but effective scare strategy. The dark is simply too good of a scare to look away from.
3 out of 5
Check out Ethan’s video review of Lights Out below!