In some way, shape, or fashion we’re all a little iffy when it comes to darkness. Imaginations run wild and no matter how well your door is locked (for example), something about darkness plays with one’s psyche. We start to hear, see, and sometimes even feel things. As we keep telling ourselves it’s just our brains playing games, some of us buckle under the tension of what can’t be seen, while some actually work up the courage to get right up, turn the light on, and nothing! The coast is clear. Yet, once the light’s off again… those creepy unidentifiable sounds and sights start to erupt.
Director David F. Sandberg’s short LIGHTS OUT (’13) taps into that same kind of fright. The only thing is that there is something that lurks in the darkness. A sinister soul that preys on your fears. What it is exactly cannot be described in this YouTube sensation, but rest assured it’ll shiver you up as this piece grips you within its coils of intense creepiness. Millions of views later, Hollywood comes knocking on his door and so sparks a production (distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures) on how to start fleshing this piece out into a feature length horror. Here we are three years later and LIGHTS OUT (the official full-length version) is working up quite a praise for Sandberg’s big time directorial debut. As it gets ready to have audiences question the dark even more as it opens nationwide on Friday, July 22, the odds of Hollywood having a new horror kid on the rise are very good.
LIGHTS OUT Plot: When Rebecca’s (Teresa Palmer) little brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman), experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, she 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 (Maria Bello)
As a fan of the short and quite frankly the feature, I was happy when the studio reached out to me and granted me a chat with David. As one can image, for someone whose directorial debut will be playing on rotation in theaters everywhere, the anticipation as well as anxiety couldn’t be bigger. As we start in on our chat, one of the first things he mentions is this being his “first press conference ever. I’m still processing everything. What I’ve been going through is every filmmaker’s dream. My life has completely changed. I’m already on my second film.”
As anyone would image, the step-by-step process for someone to get a film off the ground doesn’t come easy. But yet another internet sensation who perhaps hasn’t paid the dues others have, Hollywood makes sure he’s grounded when he mentions having been told, “that’s not how it usually works here.” And with good reason seeing as a year-and-change ago he was literally on the other side of the fence in awe when told LIGHTS OUT as a whole was a go. And linked to the project, James Wan. Could there be a better wing-man? As a fan of Sandberg’s work (which can ALL be seen on his YouTube page), as well as links to New Line Cinema and Warner Bros., Wan (a man who’s no stranger to fright flicks) helped big time in making sure things flowed nicely.
Toggling between his own projects, Wan maintained a presence throughout the entire production, even when he wasn’t around. Having picked his brain over and over, the first-time feature director mentions Wan was “very involved, especially during in the early stages when we were writing the script.” A script that saw its inevitable, questionable layout, but when rolling started, it was a go. Even if it meant minor arguments that normally come with the territory. If there were any challenges at all, “the biggest challenge was the darkness of the film.” Through it all, it was hammered out and at just a little over an hour-and-twenty minutes, LIGHTS OUT gets right into its subject-matter and exposes a terrifying tale of a troubled soul tampering with a troubled family that all leads up to a mishmash of a freak show!
Amidst winding down with LIGHTS OUT, Bugs Bunny has worked up enough confidence to hand the man one of their most profitable horror franchises: ANNABELLE. With a sequel due for release May, 2017… As a whole, Sandberg makes assures it’s not really a sequel considering it’s within the realm of its CONJURING origins. A prequel if you will – “It’s very much its own beast.”
Not sure about you, but he had me at “its own beast.”
As usual, my rawdio never fail to go missing during my Hollywood chats and for the listening pleasure of those with inquring minds about this film, feel free to click and listen on my uncut conversation with director David F. Sandberg.