31 Days of Horror: “Lights Out”





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Posted October 5, 2016 by

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Yep… It’s another paranormal horror movie. We horror fans have seen no shortage of the sub genre, over the last few years. There have been both highs (The Babadook) and lows (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) and “Lights Out” falls somewhere in between. Based on the short film, of the same name, from writer/director David F. Sandberg, “Lights Out” features some good acting and beautiful cinematography, but there were some glaring issues.

Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is suffering, from fear of being in his own house, and the resulting sleeplessness, that has him passing out at school. His fear stems from his mother’s (Maria Bello) increasingly strange behavior, in the wake of his father’s mysterious death. He seeks help, from the only person he can turn to, his older half sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer). Knowing what he is going through, and the malevolent entity who is haunting his nights, Rebecca returns home to help.

lights-out-2As their mother’s mental state worsens the entity, Diana, becomes stronger and more determined to rid the house of the siblings. Sophie needs to that her children’s lives are in danger, and do something about it, sooner rather than later. If she can’t, Diana may get her way, and Martin and Rebecca may be gone forever.

So… I was torn, with this movie. On one hand I liked Palmer and Bello’s performances. Both were very emotionally demanding, and they both handled those demands with aplomb. The practical effects were spectacular, and the psychological games being played, in every shadowy corner of the house supplied more than enough tension and jump scares. Still, though, something kept me from really digging this movie as much as I wanted to. It bothered me constantly, throughout the film’s second half.

lights-out-3Then it dawned on me… the problem was Diana. Not that she isn’t creepy. She is. It was just that she seemed be having a huge identity crisis. Sometimes, she is just a shadowy figure who scratches her prey and runs from any and all light. Other times, she is a godlike demon who can apparently teleport wherever she wants, and has the strength of the Incredible Hulk. Sometimes she disappears, the second a light is turned on. Other times, she is physically hurt by the light and has to run to escape it.

There are also the typical “Horror protagonists making the stupidest decision possible” moments, which contradicts how intelligent and grounded Rebecca is as a character. Those moments were few and far between though, and I could have handled them for the sake of setting up scares. I even could have handled the fact that the ending of the movie says some pretty alarming things, about mental illness and how to conquer it. It was just the whole Diana thing that kept me from loving “Lights Out”. It was good, but it could’ve been great. Still, it is worth a watch, with your special someone, on movie night, this Halloween season.




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