Who hasn’t turned off a light and thought, if only for a split second, that they saw a silhouette out of the corner of their eye? It’s an instantly relatable premise, but sadly Lights Out switches off for much of the delivery.
On a purely visual level, the effects to make a mysterious being disappear and reappear with the onset of light and dark is effectively eerie. At its best, the film delivers two standout executions of this device. Sometimes played for laughs, occasionally used for genuine shocks, but mostly routine jump-scares, Lights Out deserves some credit for sticking to this single phenomenon throughout without diluting it with other spooky goings-on.
Our leads have, of course, never seen a horror film. You suspect an evil ghost may lurk in the shadows, so when you enter a room do you a) try the lights first, and use a torch if they don’t work, or b) look around through the gloom hoping that the particularly dark corner is empty? To be fair, the lights don’t work – they live on the street with the most unreliable electricity network imaginable. And for goodness’ sake, there is never, ever, a good reason to go into the cellar.
The film’s portrayal of depression – the demon on your back being real – quickly moves from diverting to disturbing to downright dangerous. It’s an interesting proposition for the ethereal entity’s existence, but the subsequent treatment of the illness, leading up to the abhorrent “cure”, is entirely reprehensible.
There are sufficient scares that Lights Out may leave you sleeping with the lights on, particularly given the easily recognisable setup, but as a movie it’s just not quite switched-on enough to be effective. Its heavy reliance on horror cliches and incredible insensitivity is a massive turn-off.
CAST: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke
DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
WRITERS: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), David F. Sandberg (based on the short film by)
SYNOPSIS: When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face-to-face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.