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Lights Out (2016)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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5.4
 / 10
1 vote
Genres:
Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
David F. Sandberg David F. Sandberg
Starring:
Teresa Palmer Teresa Palmer
Gabriel Bateman Gabriel Bateman
Alexander DiPersia Alexander DiPersia
Billy Burke Billy Burke
Maria Bello Maria Bello
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Review by Crispy
Added: October 12, 2016
In 2013, David F. Sandberg filmed a two minute horror movie and uploaded it to the internet. It got so much traction that he was able to expand it to a feature length film and release it nationally. Talk about a dream come true! But did the concept hold up?

When Rebecca was a kid, her mother, Sophie, spiraled into a deep depression following her father walking out on them. Things got so bad that she was forced to walk away from her mother as well, not to mention developing some serious trust issues. Twelve years into the future and Sophie has a son named Martin with a new husband, a husband who is mysteriously and gruesomely killed one night. Naturally, the poor woman quickly spirals into another depression, dowsing their home in darkness and speaking to an imaginary friend named Diana all hours of the night. It was a lot for Martin to handle to begin with, but when he actually starts seeing Diana himself, it's too much for him. He's obviously not getting a lot of sleep with ghosts in the house, and after Sophie doesn't answer the school's calls after he's fallen asleep three days in a row, he suggests calling his half-sister. Rebecca feels for the kid, having lived through it herself, but when Martin mentions Diana's name it stirs up some long-forgotten memories. Memories of just why exactly she left all those years ago.

While it's certainly riddled with ghostly cliches, Lights Out is still able to deliver some effective scares. If you haven't seen the original short, the concept is a ghostly shadow that can only be seen in indirect light. If direct light is shone on her, she disappears. It's a fun little idea, and the gaps in its appearances are an easy way to make tension and some quasi-jump scares. Still, I'd have expected this single gimmick to have gotten stale by movie's end. Fortunately, two things saved the project. The first was its short running time. At a whopping eighty minutes long (including ending credits), it doesn't run long enough for the idea to grow tired. Plus, they added a connection between Sophie and Diana that really brought the movie together and gave it its own legs to stand on.

In the role of Rebecca, Teresa Palmer is something of an anomaly. I've never seen an actress have such a monotonous delivery for her normal lines, only to excel at fear and despair. 99% of the time, it's the emotional scenes where an otherwise passable actress will fall apart. Gabriel Bateman and Alexander DiPersia performed their jobs well enough as Martin and Brett (Rebecca's boyfriend). At the ripe old age of eleven, special props to Bateman for not being completely insufferable. Finally, I already said that the entire movie hinged on Sophie, and Maria Bello absolutely nailed the role. I don't want to go into the specifics, because a lot of it treads into spoiler territory, but she takes it to another level. She's the reason the movie was able to move beyond its cliches and is actually somewhat memorable.

Lights Out was actually a nice little ghost story. Sandberg's feel-good story will surely give him some momentum for his next few projects, and I'm looking forward to them. 7/10.
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