RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 81 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION DAVID F. SANDBERG SCREENPLAY ERIC HEISSERER STARRING TERESA PALMER, GABRIEL BATEMAN, ALEXANDER DiPERSIA, BILLY BURKE, MARIA BELLO MUSIC BENJAMIN WALLFISCH
Lights Out is a horror film directed by David F. Sandberg and produced by James Wan starring Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman and Maria Bello as a family haunted by a strange creature that only appears in the dark and can’t move through light.
I’m not a horror guy. But when I watched the trailer for this thing, I was massively intrigued. It sure spoils the first 5 minutes of the movie. But man, it gets you so into the mood and introduces you to the genius concept. Because really, what is one of the primal fears people have growing up? The darkness! So basing a movie around the concept of dark space just comes natural and just feels damn right.
The movie starts out with this incredible prologue scene, that may be one of my favorite horror scenes put on film. It’s creepy as hell and makes great use of the play between light and dark. The cinematography is very effective in capturing the various lit environment to show how the monster moves through space. It establishes all the rules and the tone + already gives us a look at the creature. You actually see the creature a lot throughout the film. But really, do you?!
The brilliant thing is, every time you see the creature, you actually don’t really see it because it hides out in the dark, since it can only move through the dark. You always see a silhouette moving through space and your mind can only imagine how the rest looks like. Paired with the incredible sound effects and the way the creature moves its limbs, was freaking me out.
In the end what makes the movie so effective is that each time somebody turns off the light or the camera moves through a dark space, you can’t help but feel frightened.
CAST & CHARACTERS
But the creature alone doesn’t make a good horror movie. In fact, the characters are the most important part and the actors portraying them do a fantastic job. You really care for the people and that’s what makes it even scarier. You don’t want any of them to die. You are invested. One scene in particular really got to me because I was rooting for the person to make it out alive. This specific character would most likely be a throw away in any other horror flick. But here he actually has a purpose and matters in the overall plot. In the end I was really surprised how invested I was in the film.
The direction is very good. Even though the movie is produced by James Wan and probably very much influenced by his style, David F. Sandberg still makes it his own. It’s not a huge production, very self contained and it wraps up nicely after a little over 80 minutes. But for that run time, the amount of story and character development is impressive. Sure, at the end I found the origin of the creature a little by the numbers. But the way it plays into the plot is done very well.
Also some of the internal logic seems a little inconsequential. There are some scenes where I went “wait a second, the creature can do that?! Alright, whatever.” But the movie makes up for it by having some clever ideas (I love the way they utilize black light in the plot).
Overall, this movie is a pleasant surprise. For skeptics like me, when it comes to horror flicks, I can easily tell you that, if you like these type of movies, you won’t be disappointed. The premise is clever and the execution done very well, even when some of the scenes don’t make sense within its own logic. But the characters are lovable, the monster is scary, the cinematography is clever. It’s just a good film. I had a good time.