Lights Out – spoiler free review
I went to see Lights Out last night with mixed anticipation. I’d heard it was pretty good and ‘terrifying’ but I’ve heard that loads of the times. No comment. So whilst I was looking forward to it very much, I knew it could go either way.
It’s based on the 2013 short film by same director David F. Sandberg. He made the feature after horror reg James Wan picked up on the short and liked it. The basic story – without giving anything away – is about a scary, spindly entity that only shows itself in the dark. Maria Bello, Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman play the family who are haunted by it and they all played their parts well, especially kid actor Bateman. I really felt bad for the little guy.
Though the story in Lights Out is fairly standard and familiar, the film still felt better than average. It has a short duration of just 81 minutes which pleased me. It jumps straight into the story (and the action) and felt snappy and fresh throughout, never boring.
The way some scary scenes are presented is slightly more offbeat than the norm too. And when I say ‘the norm’ I mean the droves of horror movies they release each year like ‘Ouija’ or ‘Mama’ or ‘Devil’s Due’ – bog standard and unremarkable. And while Lights Out is obviously reminiscent of the Japanese ‘long black hair and creaky limbs’ type horror (which hopefully isn’t a spoiler because this angle has been peddled a lot in its marketing) it also had a stranger feel at times, reminding me a little of the dark disturbance in The Babadook.
Though this will never be my ‘favourite’ horror movie, I enjoyed it fine and found the story satisfying enough, as were scenes with the creature itself. I could see people around me cowering in their seats and covering their faces with popcorn containers and whilst I didn’t find it terrifying to the point I was shielding my eyes, it would be stupid to say it wasn’t frightening or tense – of course it was. I just felt more gleefully scared than flat-out terrified. But a lot of this is to do with having seen it all before – if I’d watched Lights Out fifteen years ago I’d still be trembling now. It’s hard to make something completely new nowadays no matter how earnest the effort.
Though I don’t think Lights Out will be remembered as some groundbreaking modern day classic (like It Follows for example) it was still a decent, likable film and clearly made with care by someone who loves the horror genre. Maybe it wasn’t quite as frightening as I’d dared let myself hope but for a new generation of horror fans who missed The Ring and Grudge boat, it should have more impact. Sort of like when I watched the The Ring fourteen years ago, absolutely shit myself and couldn’t sleep for two months. I do so hope there’s a teenager out there who currently feels like that – you’ll get through it bro and it’ll only make you stronger.
All in all Lights Out is a worthy watch, a decent modern day horror that focuses on scares and tension with a creepy, satisfying bad-guy-creature.
Watch the official trailer here.