In his first outing for Big Picture Reviews, our American intern Alex skips the usual UK released date for creepy horror film “Lights Out” to bring us this favourable review.
Are you scared of the dark? No? After this movie, you will be. It is unbelievable how much Lights Out plays on people’s fear of the dark. Directed by David F. Sandberg, and based on his short film, this movie is about a family in trouble, not only from a ghost, but from themselves. There is no doubt that this is a scary movie, but there is also a family drama that adds realism and emotion to this ghost flick.
The premise of this movie revolves around a family plagued by death and mental illness. There are a number of family issues (and supernatural) to describe, but it would be better to just see the movie instead. At the center of these issues is Sophie, played by Maria Bello, the mother and widow, whose mental illness is what’s causing all the problems. Her son, Martin, played by Gabriel Bateman, gives a very convincing performance. Usually in scary movies, I dislike the children, however, you really feel for his situation in this film.
Martin’s older sister, Rebecca, played by Teresa Palmer, is the main star of this movie. Her character arc, although blatantly obvious and thrown in your face, is touching to see. Her character is also not the normal, stupid girl in a horror movie. She never falls down while running away nor does she do anything that is too dangerous. She is just a resourceful girl who cares about her family’s safety. Her boyfriend Bret, played by Alexander DiPersia is also fantastic. He stood out to me as one of the best characters in the film. Not only was his performance fantastic, it was real. From the start of the movie, his character was likable and relatable.
Finally, we have the antagonist, the ghost named Diana. I will not spoil the movie but this is one of the scariest depictions of a ghost I have seen in quite a while. Her scares are repetitive yet constantly frightening. Sandberg does a wonderful job making used up scares feel new and even though they can seem like cheap jump scares, they are used so effectively that they don’t feel cheap, just scary.
In a movie called Lights Out, one might assume that lighting plays a huge role in the horror and they would be correct. Since Diana can only appear in the dark, you’re left wondering if the room someone is in is well lit enough to be safe or if Diana is hiding in a dark corner. In times of peril in the dark, when the resourceful characters find a way to turn on a light, a feeling of safety washes over the audience which is why this movie is so great. You know when to feel safe and when not to feel safe and when you don’t, the fear is on.
This movie was not perfect though. One aspect that I did not enjoy was how fast everybody accepts the fact that there is a ghost haunting them. Once the idea comes up that there is a ghost, everyone simply says, “okay” and the movie goes on. I understand it’s a cliché now for someone not to accept it and then to have a first-hand experience with it and call the priest, but the characters in this movie don’t even have a shred of reasonable doubt. I think at some points, the movie tries to clear this up but it doesn’t really work because of how rushed the back story feels at times.
David F. Sandberg did a fantastic job with this movie and I can’t wait to see what he does with Annabelle 2 because we all know how the first one turned out (Side note: he chose the same actress who plays Diana in this movie to play another evil character in Annabelle 2).
This is a terrifying movie and I highly recommend fans of the horror genre, and film in general, to watch this movie.