Lights Out (2016)


lights-out.jpegLights 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.

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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.

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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40 Responses to Lights Out (2016)

  1. I’ll have to keep this movie in mind for when it becomes available here. I’m building a list. 🙂

  2. Zoë says:

    Glad to see you liked this one Em! Will check it out when it happens around here sometime.

  3. Jack says:

    This was a very fair review! I saw the film just the other day and was already a huge fan of the little short film, it was incredibly effective. I like that you approved of the actors, I thought the main cast in this were good, which makes a change because sometimes with horror films I feel like I am tolerating the cast!

    • emmakwall says:

      I agree! I wanted a happy ending for the, I did give some semblance of a shit about them and that is rare in horror films nowadays 🙂

      I thought it was a good effort and I know if I’d watched it as a teenager it would have scared me even more! It was still good though and there wasn’t a lot ‘not’ to like.

      I have spooked myself a few nights since late at night thinking about Diana in the shadows… 🙂

      I watched the short the other day and thought it was good, liked how Diana looked! Thanks Jack 🙂

  4. Ryan says:

    Nice one, Emma! I haven’t had the chance to see this one yet but I definitely plan on it. The Ring was such a gnarly film for its time (both the original and the remake)!

  5. Booklighting says:

    I went to see Lights Out at the cinema this week, but I have to say I was disappointed! I didn’t find it scary at all and the trailer gave away the majority of the plot. I was impressed by the acting (by horror film standards) but other than that didn’t rate it too much.

    • emmakwall says:

      That’s a shame! I hardly ever watch trailers for that very reason to be honest. Apart from the TV teasers. I’ve often seen bits of the plot in trailers and it’s really annoying.

  6. I actually like the US version of The Ring better than the Japanese, that’s just me. You have a spot on review here, I agree. Scary enough to be fun but not so scary to leave a long lasting impression 🙂

  7. beetleypete says:

    I hope that you refer to the Japanese original, ‘Ringu’ (1998), in which case, I have to agree about it being genuinely scary. (Said in a schoolteacher’s voice…) I hadn’t heard much about ‘Lights Out’, but it seems acceptable enough. No doubt it won’t be long before it’s on TV, and I will give it a watch then.
    Nice review as always, Em.
    As ever, Pete. XXX

    • emmakwall says:

      Well….no, or else I would have written “like when I saw Ringu eighteen years ago…” – clue’s in the name! And the year. The Ring’s cinematic release was 2002 – fourteen years ago 🙂

      Both films are very scary – agreed! But I still prefer the US remake, the mystery surrounding Samara (Sadako) plays out better (in my opinion). I wouldn’t say it’s better, but I prefer it. Brian Cox is in it too, I have such a soft spot for him! (not the Professor…lol)

      I think you’ll enjoy Lights Out and certainly if you’re a fan of Asian horror, it has definite comparisons not just with The Ring or The Grudge but many Japanese (and Korean too) horror films. The hair, the curse….(the catchphrase, brilliant) – Extras ref!!!

      Cheers Pete! Hope you’re well XXX

      • beetleypete says:

        I was only teasing, (hence the schoolteacher voice) as I knew from the date which version you meant. As remakes go, it was pretty good!
        I’m fine, Em. Hope things are improving for you though? XXX

  8. The Vern says:

    Emmy you bring up a great point of how certain horror movies can effect you at different times. What you felt about The Ring at 14 is different than how you feel now. Im sure someone will be scared by Lights Out and that’s just fine.

    • emmakwall says:

      Thank you so much Verny I’m glad you said about that as I realised it didn’t scare me THAT much but it certainly would have done a few years ago so I felt it was fair to make that point 🙂 it was still a fine film.

  9. Kevin says:

    When you say The Grudge, do you mean the Sarah Michelle Gellar one or Ju-On, the original Japanese one?

  10. filmsCine says:

    You’re brave going to see it at the cinema! I’m absolutely with you on shitting self over The Ring. It’s actually one of those movies that I cannot watch alone, and I’m pretty hardcore when it comes to horrors.

    • emmakwall says:

      Me too!!!! And I couldn’t have watched Lights Out alone if I’m honest 🙂 and last night I was home alone and had FAR more lights on than was normal….. 🙂

      I like to pretend I’m brave but….. 🙂

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