REVIEW: Lights Out (2016)

Lights Out Poster
Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Lights Out by David F. Sandberg.

The first job of traditional, modern day horror films is to scare you. The very best horror films can have a paralyzing effect on you. They can frighten you so much that you don’t dare move out of your seat, look behind you, or look into a mirror to see what may be behind you.

Some of the most effective horror films are also very simple. The filmmakers take a very common fear or thought, and they manage to elevate your emotional response to things that maybe shouldn’t be as scary as they seem in daily moments. 

As I mentioned, the first job of a horror movie should be to scare you, and all people know that everyone’s afraid of the dark. That’s why David F. Sandberg’s short film worked so well. The short film definitely had a lasting effect on its viewers, and I guess a small part of me was worried that the simple concept wouldn’t work as a full length film. I was wrong, this film is really solid.

After losing her stepfather, Rebecca (played by Teresa Palmer) is contacted by her younger stepbrother, Martin (played by Gabriel Bateman), who says that their mother (played by Maria Bello) is talking to someone she calls Diana – an evil entity that lives in and appears in the dark.

I really liked this film a lot, and a major reason why I did is because of the very simple, but very scary, concept. ‘Diana’ just is scary, even if her ‘creature-design’ isn’t all that groundbreaking or different. But I was really surprised by how this film is really about depression and a broken family.

It’s an interesting plot, and the performances are solid. I liked Maria Bello in Lights Out, but I particularly enjoyed Teresa Palmer and Alexander DiPersia, who plays her character’s boyfriend, a lot. DiPersia has this one great sequence, which was really my favorite thing in the film, where he uses all sorts of light sources. That was really great.

But it’s not all great. I thought the last twenty minutes, or so, sort of undid the rules that the film had set up. The rules that specified what Diana could and couldn’t do in the light (and in what kind of light) weren’t always followed. So yeah, there were some things that didn’t quite work for me.

All in all, though, Lights Out is a really, really good (and surprisingly short) horror film that should scare you, and have a lasting effect on you. I’m really excited to see what David F. Sandberg can do with Annabelle 2 and other projects in the future.

7.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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